Photo Of The Day: I Heart NY

Photo of the day - I love NY
Happy Valentine’s Day! Can a place be your Valentine? This year, I’m in Istanbul, my second love, but my first will always be New York City. Still, I’ve never quite gotten the appeal of souvenir T-shirts that announce where you’ve been or what places you love most. There was a nice trend after September 11, 2001, of people wearing “I (Heart) NY More Than Ever,” which made sense and contributed to the solidarity of that time, and the trend has been revived in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. But otherwise, why do you need to declare your love for a place while you’re still in it? Flickr user em_photos2010 captured this family, who evidently couldn’t love New York more, as they all wear their hearts on their sleeves (so to speak). We’re not sure where they are wearing their shirts (other than outside Johnny Rockets, which are all over the world, including some cruise ships), and I’m guessing NYC is not their hometown, but maybe it’s a second love.

Add your favorite photos to the Gadling Flickr pool for another Photo of the Day. Remember, you can also now submit photos through Instagram; mention @GadlingTravel AND use hashtag #gadling when posting images.

[Photo credit: Flickr user em_photos2010]

Over-The-Top Valentine’s Day Experiences: Day 10

ty warner penthouse four seasons new york
When it comes to love, what better way to say it than with a private jet and diamonds? We have 52 reasons in this package from Jetway Private Air and Four Seasons in this penultimate romance package.

The “52 Love Salute” honors love that lasts through every week of the year. Start with a private chartered flight on a luxurious jet of your choice with Jetway Private Air from any U.S. state. We hope you live far enough away to enjoy this.

En route, play 52 love songs on a play list for an in-flight serenade and enjoy 52 love poems – just in case writing in iambic pentameter isn’t your forte or if the smooth sounds of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” don’t already whet her fancy.

Joining the mile high club is optional, but you will have plenty of time for romance when you arrive to the Ty Warner Penthouse Suite at the Four Seasons Hotel New York, considered one of the world’s most iconic hotel suites.

The evening of romance includes: caviar and Champagne from Calvisius Caviar Bar, unlimited use of the hotel’s Rolls Royce with a personal chauffeur, a personal butler 24/7 and a decadent dinner for two prepared by Executive Chef John Johnson as well as unlimited massages given in the Penthouse spa room.

Really, you had us at “unlimited massage,” but there’s more. You’ll also enjoy a stunning 52-carat heart-shaped diamond necklace from Premier Gem Corporation.

To purchase the package, call Jetway private air (866-809-2198) or Four Seasons Hotel New York (1-800-487-3769). The package begins at $417,000 and can go up to $487,000 depending on departure city. Reservations are based on availability; Penthouse is $40,000 plus tax per night for each additional evening. This package can only be booked over the phone.

Didn’t catch the rest of our over-the-top packages? Check out our past Valentine’s Day coverage, here.

Have A Heart: How This Organ Meat Is Eaten Around The World

heartAmericans are frequently credited with having a lot of heart, but when it comes to eating them, we’re not so hip on the idea. Even though offal, or “nose-to-tail” eating has been on-trend for some years now, a lot of people still flinch at the idea of dining on animal heart.

The reality is, heart is a delicious, healthy, versatile meat, devoid of the strong flavor possessed by most (improperly prepared) organ meats. My chef friend Ryan Hardy says, “The heart is a muscle, just like loin or shoulder.” A former farmer who makes his own charcuterie, Ryan’s made a name for himself with dishes like veal heart scallopine, and other rustic, meaty treats.

The rest of the world uses the hearts of all sorts of critters, from frog to horse, in a variety of ways. In honor of our own heart-centric holiday (that’s Valentine’s, y’all), I’ve provided a list of the most well known dishes, along with some modern interpretations of classic recipes, by some of the nation’s most acclaimed chefs.

Anticuchos
One of the tastiest/least frightening of heart dishes are these skewered and grilled chunks of beef heart from Peru. Although anticuchos can be made with the hearts of other species, corazon de vaca is the most popular, and sold by street food vendors across the country, and in other parts of South America.

Cobra heart
We’ve all seen it on the Travel Channel, whether it’s “No Reservations,” “Bizarre Foods,” or some other show. Or perhaps you’ve experienced it for yourself: the old, snake-heart-in-a-shot-of-firewater, or swallowing the still-beating-cobra or frog heart. It’s what men in parts of Asia use in place of Viagra, and frankly, I’d take impotence, any day. For anyone who’s ever stared into a bottle of rice whisky, cloudy with flecks of tissue, and observed a bobbing gray blob of reptile or amphibian heart, you know what I’m talking about.haggis
Haggis
The beloved national dish of Scotland consists of a sheep’s stomach stuffed with a highly-seasoned mixture of the animal’s lungs, heart and liver, mixed with oatmeal. If that doesn’t tempt you, perhaps the cooking technique will. Boiling is nothing if not sexy.

Giblets
Originally, this term referred to a stew of game birds, and dates back to the 16th century. Today, it refers to the edible organs – usually heart, liver, and gizzard – of poultry, which are used for making gravy. Tip: Caramelize these suckers before attempting to make stock and/or ragù from them; it makes all the difference in depth of flavor in the final dish. Serve atop fresh pappardelle pasta, and you have a dish that says, “I love you.”

Coer de Veau Farci
This classic French dish from centuries past consists of veal heart stuffed with forcemeat (often mushrooms) and wrapped in caul fat, before being cooked in the oven. It’s served with a reduction of the pan juices and white wine enriched with butter. According to “Larousse Gastronomique,” the French bible on all things culinary, “Pig or sheep hearts are used to make a ragout or a civet [a game stew thickened with blood].”

In the contemporary world, heart is growing more mainstream thanks to the work of chefs and food personalities. For example, last June, I attended a cooking demo by Andrew Zimmern at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen. The theme was “Game On!” and Zimmern prepared a handful of dishes utilizing oft-unloved animal parts. He converted the dubious, especially with his grilled venison hearts with arugula, sauce Gribiche and shallot rings

Another acquaintance of mine, Jonathon Sawyer, chef/owner of Cleveland’s acclaimed The Greenhouse Tavern, is serving up confit beef heart paprikash (with bacon, onion, smoked paprika, steamed potatoes and spaetzel) as part of this year’s Valentine’s Day Menu. I asked Jonathon what had inspired this untraditional take on paprikash, which usually calls for chicken meat (heart-free).

He told me, “It was partly inspired by my travels in Europe. When cooking things like offal at the restaurant, we like to use familiar flavors that encourage our guests to give it a try. To me, nothing is more comforting than a big bowl of Hungarian paprikash just like Grandma Szegedi used to make.”

That, my friends, is love.

[Photo credits: heart, Flickr user Baie.; haggis, Flickr user CasadeQueso]

Over-The-Top Valentine’s Day Experiences: Day 9


qualia resort


We’re wrapping up our over-the-top Valentine’s Day coverage and, as we head into the home stretch, the packages have gotten more and more outrageously luxe. For the trip of a lifetime, try qualia resort on Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

The trip, which can be given as a gift on February 14 but enjoyed year-round, features an array of services, divine cuisine and incredible experiences from private planes and personalized gourmet meals for a special package offer of $100,000.

The resort, qualia (pronounced kwah-lee-ah), features 60, one-bedroom pavilions and a beach house with views of the surrounding Coral Sea and Queensland’s famed Whitsunday Islands.

But just what do you get for $100k? Here you go:

  • Private round-trip jet from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Hamilton Island.
  • Seven-night stay at qualia’s Beach House including a la carte breakfast daily and dinner in either qualia’s Long Pavilion or Pebble Beach restaurants.
  • Private dinner prepared personally by qualia’s Executive Chef, Alastair Waddell.
  • Dinner one evening in Hamilton Island Yacht Club’s fine-dining Bommie restaurant.
  • Private helicopter and gourmet lunch on Whitehaven Beach.
  • Luxury Reef Comber Tour including seaplane flight to Hardy Lagoon, glass bottom boat and snorkeling experience.
  • 8-holes of golf at the Hamilton Island Golf Club with return helicopter transfers from qualia to Dent Island, including three-course Clubhouse lunch with wine.
  • Private luxury yacht charter for a day.
  • Spa qualia couples treatment.
  • Prestige bottle of Robert Oatley Vineyards Finisterre wine with a personalized label signed by Robert Oatley (owner of Hamilton Island).
  • Shipment of Robert Oatley wine to any address in the US for six months after visit (six cases).
  • Private beach drop off with gourmet picnic lunch.
  • Atomic sunset cruise with canapés and champagne.
The Beach House boasts a main bedroom and ensuite entertaining area with large flat-screen TV with surround sound, 10-person dining area, private full-sized swimming pool and separate guesthouse.

To book, email the Luxury Specialist team: luxuryspecialist@hamiltonisland.com.au.


Valentine’s Day Help For The Clueless

valentines day

Valentines Day can be full of fun and joy or a stressful day for those who forgot to do something special for their loved one. While there may be just days left to plan a memorable event, there are options.

Go Skydiving
“Nothing says ‘I love you!’ like jumping out of a plane together,” says Skydive Spaceland in Houston. The company touts Valentine’s Day Specials like a Valentine’s Day 2-Fer Gift ($369), good for six months after date of purchase, perfect if extra time is needed to get used to the idea of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Those ready to go can save more with a dual jump on Valentine’s Day for $299.

Click To Celebrate
There is still time to send a gift online, if you hurry. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, for example, has Valentine’s Day gifts ranging from a traditional Red satin heart box filled with chocolates ($24.50) to a Scrumptious Snack Basket ($89.50). Too much? Try (personal favorite) See’s Candies who has a 4-ounce Red Assorted Box for $5.95 and they will even deliver it for you with expedited shipping at no extra charge to make it there in time.

Your Credit Card Company Can Help
Visa Signature cardholders get 24/7 access to a complimentary concierge service known as the Visa Signature Concierge. Visa’s on-call experts can help you with almost anything, including:

  • Offering restaurant recommendations.
  • Making the reservations that you forgot to make.
  • Buying last minute gifts.
  • Making travel arrangements.
  • Helping with entertainment planning, including finding hard-to-get tickets to anything.

Find A Great Place For A Romantic Dinner
No Visa Signature card? Open Table can help with suggestions on where to go for a great Valentine’s Celebration with a customized list of restaurants with availability on Valentine’s Day. Just punch in your zip code and the date you want to dine and Open Table instantly shows a list of restaurants, their price range, when tables are available and more.

Stay Home And Watch TV
The Travel Channel has a special showing of Ghost Adventures on Valentine’s Day. In each episode, the Ghost Adventures crew, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin investigate the scariest, most notorious, haunted places in the world.

This week, the gang at Ghost Adventures goes to Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, home to America’s most amorous female ghost.

Perhaps you have Valentine’s Day all planned and are ready to go. Did you think about what to wear? This video might help:



[Photo Credit- Flickr user wbeem]