Epicurean Charlotte

Food & Wine Magazine


Bound for the Bahamas: Plan Your Escape to Nassau & Paradise Island

article by Sara Kendall
images courtesy Graycliff Hotel, Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board, Sara Kendall, and Warwick Paradise Island

If you’re in need of white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters, the Bahamas is for you. This Caribbean archipelago is a mix of natural beauty, island culture, and crave-worthy cuisine, making it the ideal spot for your next getaway. A quick two-hour flight makes getting to Nassau and Paradise Island easier than you may think. So, ditch the stress of everyday life and head to the islands, the pleasures of the Bahamas await you.

Island Activities

At the top of the list for any Caribbean vacation are lounging by the pool and relaxing ocean swims. Once you’ve gotten your dose of pool and beach time, Nassau and Paradise Island offer so much more fun and excitement to fill your days and nights.

Try a Tru Bahamian Food Tour, where you can taste and sip the flavors of this Caribbean island. In the heart of colonial Nassau, you will be lead by a local on a culinary and cultural walking tour with six stops, each with authentic food and drinks. Stops include Bahamian Cookin’, a local favorite restaurant that has been around over 30 years, the exquisite Graycliff Chocolatier, and the famous Tortuga Rum Cake Company. Along the way, you’ll learn about this island nation’s history and culture while satisfying your foodie adventure desires.

The Graycliff Hotel is a must-do outing, especially for wine lovers. Here you can take a tour of Graycliff Hotel Wine Cellar, where you’ll find the third largest private wine collection in the world! Once a pirate dungeon, hotel guests and diners can tour the cellar’s maze of small rooms, each storing a particular type of wine or champagne. With over 275,000 bottles, the seemingly endless racks of vino stored in every nook and cranny will amaze you. Don’t miss the million-dollar wall of French wines. Their most expensive bottle is a 1727 German dessert wine valued at $200,000. Just imagine what dessert you would pair with this wine!

If you want to dine like the stars, reserve the private dining room carved out in the wine cellar where Sean Connery, Tom Cruise, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James have dined.

Another must-see is John Watling’s Distillery. Situated on a hilltop, you can take a free guided-tour and hear about the history of the distillery and the three kinds of hand-produced rum produced there. You’ll taste a sample of their signature piña colada made using only fresh ingredients—prepare to be wowed!

After the tour, you can partake in tasting their spectacular three rums or sip a handcrafted rum cocktail in their very inviting bar. As you depart, pause for a few minutes on the veranda to take in the nice view of the town and their surrounding beautiful grounds. A scene from the James Bond movie Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig was filmed on the grounds, and a sign marks the spot of this action scene.

If you aren’t staying at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, it’s well worth it to purchase a day-pass to enjoy their Aquaventure Water Park. The centerpiece of Atlantis is the 141-acre park featuring 18 thrilling water slides and a mile-long lazy river with waves, rapids, and tunnels. Adults and kids both will need plenty of time to experience all the waterpark has to offer. When you need to refill and recharge, you’ll find a number of restaurant choices around the waterpark, in addition to ample locker space to secure any valuables while enjoying the waterpark’s activities. Numerous lifeguards are stationed throughout the waterpark, and nurses are on staff to assist with any medical issues. It’s definitely worth your vacation time to spend a day here.

Where to Eat

Conch is the national food of The Bahamas and a true island specialty worth eating more than once while vacationing here. The most sought out dishes are conch fritters, known for being the best appetizer, conch salad served with chopped tomatoes, onions, and green peppers, and cracked conch, which is deep-fried served with a spicy dipping sauce. Wash down all these conch specialty dishes with Kalik, the official beer of the Bahamas.

One of the best places to find a menu full of conch-inspired dishes is the popular Fish Fry, a no-frills row of small fish stands and seafood shacks on West Bay Street. The most popular sit-down restaurants are Goldie’s, Oh Andros, and Twin Brothers. You can expect this area to be full of local flavors and atmosphere.

Dining at Graycliff Hotel Restaurant is a unique experience you won’t want to miss. Upon entering, you’ll notice Old Nassau ambiance everywhere. Along with a jazz singing pianist, you will find a cigar maker hand-rolling the perfect cigars. This hotel’s five-star restaurant’s warm ambiance, attentive service, incredible entrées, and astonishing wine list will give you one of your top dining experiences ever.

Family-run Athena Café brings a taste of the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, offering authentic Greek food. A bit of a departure from the seafood restaurants, you can order classic Mediterranean dishes like Greek salad, fresh pita bread, and lamb gyros. Located in downtown, this upstairs restaurant gives diners fabulous town views.

If the mood for modern Japanese cuisine strikes, then Atlantis Resort hosts Nobu, where famed Chef Nobu Matsuhisa brings his sensational talents to his newest restaurant outpost. Looking for classic French fare, have dinner at Café Martinique, where renowned Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has made his mark. Mediterranean-inspired dishes can be found at Olives, where famed Chef Todd English hangs his apron. These gourmet celebrity chef restaurants are highly sought out, so advance reservations are recommended; you can book them online well before your trip.

Places to Stay

Warwick Paradise Island has just completed a significant renovation, to the tune of $50 million. It’s a brand new hotel, plus it’s Paradise Island’s first all-inclusive adult only resort. Perched on Nassau’s harbor, this hotel offers guests glorious views of the harbor, yet remains easy walking distance to beaches, shopping, and entertainment. They offer five room choices from Island View to Harbour Premium Balcony rooms and six restaurants and bars, ranging from buffet to fine dining. Fishing equipment is available, and if you catch anything off their pier, the chef will prepare your catch for your dinner.

Over the past three hundred years, pirates, world leaders, and British royalty have been drawn to Graycliff Hotel, Nassau’s first and only five-star hotel. Here, their friendly welcome will make you feel as if you are a guest at the home of a dear friend. Among their 20 elegant guest rooms and cottage suites, you’ll find a mix of modern conveniences and old-world style. You can take a chocolate making class at their chocolate factory or attend a cigar-rolling lesson at their onsite cigar company. For some down time, head to their luxurious pool, the first and oldest pool in Nassau, adorned with hand painted Italian tiles.

For a resort that has everything, Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island is it! Six different hotels with over 3,800 hotel rooms, surrounded by beautiful white-sand beaches, 11 swimming pools, 40 restaurants, an enormous waterpark, a championship golf course, bars, shops, nightclubs, spas, a casino, marine habitat, and animal experiences, all there for your pleasure. How could you not love this place! The resort’s 8,000 employees keep the place up and running, taking care of your every need with a smile. This is the kind of place you check in and never want to leave.

Well-rounded Richmond

by Zenda Douglas
images courtesy Richmond Region Tourism and VisitRichmondVA

Richmond, Virginia, is located 98 miles south of Washington, D.C., by the James River, and between the Virginia coastline and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Interstate highways I-95 and I-64 intersect here for easy access. It’s easy to get into and easy to get back out, but you’ll definitely want to spend as much time as possible in between.

The only ambivalence visitors to Richmond may experience is in deciding if this intriguing city is a college town or an arts community, a foodie hot spot or a sports center, a historic site or a hub of government. It won’t take long to figure out that it’s all of these things and so much more.

A ride on the Historic RVA Trolley Tour will help visitors gain their bearings. Meet the trolley at the Richmond Region Visitors Center to begin a two-hour guided tour showcasing the riverfront, architecture, historical sites, and many of the popular landmarks throughout one of America’s oldest cities.

See a grand view of the city from Libby Hill Park, where, in 1737, William Byrd II was inspired to give Richmond its name because of the striking similarity to the views of Richmond on the Thames in England. The fabric of Richmond is interwoven with history that dates back to Pre-Revolution times. This vantage point offers a breathtaking and impressive view of the city, the James River, and neighboring regions.

Another great view of the city skyline is available from the Virginia War Memorial, now a major education center whose goal is to honor military veterans by passing their stories of sacrifice on the future generations. The Memorial’s Virginians at War series of documentary videos, narrated by Virginia veterans, can be seen in the Memorial’s theater. Unique artifacts are on display in exhibits situated throughout the Center’s galleries. The Shrine of Memory contains the engraved names of 11,639 Virginians who made the ultimate sacrifice during the 20th century. The statue, Memory, sits at the southern end of the Shrine along with the Torch of Liberty, an eternal flame. A large outdoor amphitheater overlooking the James River is the perfect venue for concerts and ceremonies.

Fortunate visitors will get settled in downtown at The Jefferson Hotel, truly one of America’s grand hotels. Its breathtaking architecture and elegant décor will impress the most discerning guests, but most memorable of all is the completely genuine, friendly, and helpful service. For more than a century, The Jefferson Hotel has provided visitors to the Richmond region with an extraordinary travel experience. Guests will be immersed in luxury, from the fine art exhibited throughout the hotel to state-of-the-art amenities.

In March 2013, The Jefferson Hotel began a three-phase reconstruction project. The hotel’s 262 guest rooms were quietly transformed into 181 spacious new rooms and suites, featuring entry foyers, dressing areas, and luxurious new marbled baths. Centrally located in the heart of downtown, The Jefferson Hotel is just blocks from the state capital, historic Shockoe Slip, the Richmond Convention Center, and Richmond’s financial district. Visitors to Richmond not staying at the hotel are equally welcome to enjoy the Palm Court, Rotunda, History Room, and restaurants of the hotel. Indulge in the Sunday Champagne Brunch at Lemaire, and upscale casual fare at TJ’s. Whenever possible, local produce, naturally-raised meats, and sustainably-harvested seafood are featured in the globally-influenced Southern cuisine.

Holding more than 5,000 years of art from around the world, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) is worthy of top billing on visitor itineraries. The airy interior is home to 33,000 works of art comprising the Museum’s permanent collection. Coming up in May 2017 is the Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style exhibit. Look forward to seeing Hear My Voice: Native American Art from the Past and Present exhibit coming in August 2017. Marvel at history on Monument Avenue.

Cultivated on land that was once Powhatan Indian hunting ground, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden offers 40 acres of spectacular gardens and a one-of-a-kind classical domed Conservatory housing more than a dozen themed gardens. Gardens include a Children’s Garden, Healing Garden, Sunken Garden, Victorian Garden, and a Rose Garden with more than 80 varieties. Get up close and personal at Butterflies LIVE! as hundreds of tropical butterflies feed, flutter, and take flight all around you. Visitors can explore the origins, preferred habitats, and lifecycles of butterflies.

Continue in the gardening spirit by visiting Maymont. Stroll through acres of magnificent gardens including a Japanese, Italian, and Victorian garden, among many beautiful others. Maymont, an elaborate Gilded Age estate on a site high above the James River, was built in 1893 by James and Sallie Dooley. Upon their deaths, the property, which included its architectural complex, the 100-acre landscape, and a collection of exquisite furnishings, was gifted to the people of Richmond. Travelers can explore natural-setting wildlife habitats and the Children’s Farm and Nature Center.

Maymont Mansion, the gardens and historic artifacts have been lovingly restored to look much as they did when the Dooleys called it home.

Get your awe on at the Science Museum of Virginia, where hundreds of experiential exhibits await your participation. Become mesmerized in the Dome Theater, with a Digistar 5 full dome 3D system—the largest screen in Virginia. The Science Museum of Virginia presents dynamic programming to hundreds of thousands of guests each year. The Museum features permanent exhibitions about space, health, electricity, and the earth, as well as hosts visiting exhibitions from around the world. Spend time in the “Boost!” exhibition, where the exhibit challenges and inspires visitors.

The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar is unique in that it’s the nation’s first museum to interpret the war through three interwoven perspectives: Union, Confederate, and African-American. Expected in late 2018, a new building at Tredegar will combine the Center’s collections with those of the Museum of the Confederacy.

Opened in 1922, in The Old Stone House, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum is only blocks away from Poe’s first Richmond home and his first place of employment, the Southern Literary Messenger.

Richmond’s Poe Museum boasts the world’s finest collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia, and personal belongings. The Poe Museum provides a retreat into early nineteenth century Richmond where Poe lived and worked. The museum features the life and career of Edgar Allan Poe by documenting his accomplishments with pictures, relics, and verse, and focusing on his many years in Richmond.

In most places, visitors tread a bit out of town to take advantage of water sports. Here, rafters and kayakers glide and maneuver right through downtown. Richmond also has the only class III and IV urban rapids in the entire country, and the mighty James River is available for swimming.

Moving around the city, visitors will get acquainted with the neighborhoods that make up Richmond. Tour the numerous neighborhoods including Carytown, which contains Richmond’s eclectic nine-block “Mile of Style;” the Fan District; Jackson Ward; Church Hill, and Shockoe Slip. The blocks along Cary Street (in Carytown) are lined with unique boutiques, restaurants, and specialty shops. The Church Hill neighborhood stands out with new restaurants such as The Roosevelt and Dutch and Co., and is also carving out a niche
as the bakery district.

Repast in Richmond

Indeed, eating through Richmond is delightful, adventurous, and completely satisfying.

Enjoy lunch or dinner at The Daily Kitchen & Bar, which strives to serve foods that are not only delicious, but also health conscious, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible. The restaurant uses organic, all natural, local, and sustainable ingredients
as much as possible. It also offers an extensive selection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free items. The Daily Kitchen & Bar hosts a large menu of items that include butter croissants, tofu omelets, rare tuna salad, blackened mahi, BBQ tofu sandwiches, fava bean bruschetta, lump crab stacks, Angus beef burgers, tuna banh mi sandwiches, and chicken paninis.

Bistro 27 is a lively European bistro with floor-to-ceiling, wrap around windows and airy 20-foot ceilings. It offers a stylish dining experience. The eclectic menu shows a contemporary take on European classics with a carefully-chosen wine list that ranges from inexpensive, little-known gems to world-class award winners. Try the Lamb Osso Bucco, five-hour braised lamb shank served in a rich demi sauce with polenta and vegetable, or the Pan Seared Sea Scallops with tomato, garlic, and pine nuts served with citrus butter sauce, risotto, and vegetable.

Lucy’s Restaurant is situated in the revitalizing Jackson Ward neighborhood. A small restaurant seating only 40 diners, Lucy’s offers daily specials, a full complement bar, wine by the glass or bottle, and draft or bottled beer. The duck breast—pan-seared duck breast with an apricot glaze over a sauté of farro, scallion, baby greens, and Sausage Craft chorizo—may well tempt you. Here, diners can find Non “Spaghetti & Meatballs,” which is made up of artichoke, spinach, and avocado meatballs served over sautéed spaghetti squash, with caramelized onion pomodoro sauce and grated parmesan.

Since its opening, Heritage has garnered numerous accolades including: Richmond Magazine’s Chef & Restaurant of the Year Elbys 2015; StarChef.com Rising Star Winner 2014 Washington DC area; Southern Living’s 100 Best Restaurants in the South 2014; and Richmond Magazine’s Best New Restaurant 2013. While awards say a lot, serious diners will want to experience it all for themselves. Get things started with a lovely housemade charcuterie with smoked guanciale, shoyu coppa, pork rillette, pancetta, mustards, jam, chutney, and toast. Choose between small, medium, and large plates with dishes such as kale gnocchetti with shrimp, andouille sausage, broccolini, red sauce, and Parmesan, or local rockfish with fresh garbanzo beans, fingerling potatoes, preserved lemon, and peanut romesco sauce.