My 2010 Travel Awards Part 3: Golf Grub, the tasty final chapter
Sorry to bombard you with travel awards, but this year offered such a variety of experiences – from outstanding golf, resorts and food – that I had to share separately on each subject.
I don’t claim to be a restaurant critic but my palate knows a thing or two about food. How do you think I’ve gained 70 pounds since high school? I’m an expert at eating. I’ve sampled some succulent food served at the world’s greatest golf resorts (and nearby as well). Sorry I don’t have many photos. I was too busy stuffing my face. Here’s the tastiest installment – and final chapter – of my 2010 golf awards:
Best Special Meal: Francesca’s at Sunset at the Westin La Cantera Resort in San Antonio.
The restaurant held a marvelous “Farm-to-Table” meal with partner Uncertain Farms. On the menu were wild game like buffalo and rabbit. The feast took the restaurant’s theme of South Texas cuisine melding with Southwestern flair to a whole other level. Pictured above is the grand scene on the final hole of the resort’s Palmer course. Sitting on the balcony for a lunch at the Grille is a great place to watch golfers coming home. Runner-up: Dinner and breakfast prepared and served inside our 12-person cabin at Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta, Canada.
Best U.S. golf resort restaurant: Dove Mountain’s CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar in Marana, Ariz., 30 minutes from Tucson. The sumptuous Buffalo Tenderloin soaked in olive oil and garlic for three days before it melted in my mouth. Enough said. The restaurant follows up with a diverse breakfast buffet, but I went for the breakfast burrito off the menu both mornings. I had to avoid the spicy green sauce, however. Runners-up: The Chophouse at Grand Geneva in Lake Geneva, Wis. and Nona’s at The Homestead Resort in Glen Arbor, Mich. You can’t go wrong at either place, especially with the lobster macaroni and cheese at the Chophouse. Homestead’s critically acclaimed chef, Mario Batali, had a hole in one this summer, so he can play a little golf, too.
Best International golf resort restaurant: (tie) Most critics would probably consider the Market restaurant at the One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico, the more prestigious fine dining haunt, but the Waldhaus at the Fairmont Banff Springs in Alberta, Canada, had it all: great food, scenery and a fun group.
The “House in the Forest” (see photo), is tucked behind the mammoth castle-like hotel, overlooking the golf course and river. It serves authentic Swiss and German dinners. Runner-up: The King Crab Salad and Lobster Corn Tamal at La Cava, a 3,500-bottle wine cellar available for private parties at Las Ventanas, an intimate resort in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Best Desert: The Churros, nicknamed “Spanish Donuts,” at Esperanza’s El Restaurante in Los Cabos, Mexico. Eating these fried dough pastry-like treats gets even better when you’re sitting outdoors near a dynamic cliff-top setting.
Best lunch after golf: The seafood chowder at Darby’s Bar at Doonbeg Resort in Ireland. The lodge, just steps from the clubhouse, offers sweeping views of the Atlantic, where locals caught my lunch. The soup warms the belly after a windy day on a punishing links.
Best Treat at the Turn: (tie) The fish tacos at Cabo del Sol’s Ocean course in Los Cabos, Mexico, (see the main photo above) and the short rib sliders at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain. I would travel the country just for another bite of either treat.
Best off-property Seafood: Wintzell’s Oyster Bar in downtown Mobile. The landmark on Dauphin Street since 1938 has expanded to 10 other locations, all serving up those signature succulent oyster trays. The homespun philosophies of original owner Oliver Wintzell decorate the walls of the original restaurant downtown. Some sound like fortune cooking sayings, others drunken prophecies.
Best off-property Barbeque Joint: The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint in Mobile.
The Shed brings luscious smoked ribs and brisket from its original location in Ocean Springs, Miss., to Alabama. The restaurant looks like a Joe’s Crab Shack … with Christmas lights and crazy décor … but its food is so much better. You order at a counter and waiters bring your grub in throwaway trays and plastic spoons. It’s a unique presentation for such excellent fare.
Coolest off-property Vibe: Callaghan’s Irish Social Club in Mobile. Tucked in a neighborhood, Callaghan’s Irish Social Club serves up bacon cheeseburgers to die for and a killer hangout scene for drinking with townies, especially when the live music spills onto the sidewalks for the patrons seated outside.
Best hangout bar in a golf destination: The Hangout in Gulf Shores, Ala. This mammoth indoor-outdoor extravaganza has it all … ping pong tables, a movie-screen sized TV, tiki torches, even a sand hill for children to play on. The food isn’t knockout great but it’s good enough. This place is more about chillin’ out than a great meal. It hosted the free Bon Jovi concert this summer to raise money for the Gulf Shores community after the oil spill.
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