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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.

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As winter spreads its chilly pallor – Belize Heats up!

Posted: March 15, 2011
by: Mark Stine

I had the good fortune last October to accompany the Belize Tourism Bureau on a writer’s tour of great sites to visit and of course…taste the local flavors of Belizean cuisine. And with this unseasonal cold weather, I would love to be down there right now.  I was speaking with Donna of gourmetstation (aka T. Alexander) about warm weather spots and how we both have a desire to stay at someplace with houses situated over the water…and that  has always seemed so “exotique” …well one spot in Placencia, Belize…  while not over the water, was sure up close and personal with the ocean. Placenia is about midway up the country of Belize and extends out onto a very long 26 mile peninsula.

Well that spot is Turtle Inn, a property by Francis Ford Coppola with a wonderful location and certainly was one of my favorites in the area after I toured the property.  I touched on this in a prior blog, but didn’t spend the night and didn’t have a chance to elaborate on the cuisine and the dining experience…so I am updating that now.

Arriving just before dusk, our little group was treated to a wonderful tasting with specialty cocktails beach side at “The Laughing Fish Bar.”  All ingredients are natural…fresh and often grown right on property, since the Turtle Inn has a kitchen and produce garden which provides wonderful ingredients to flavor and enhance key dishes. My favorite cocktail was cucumber based…and part of the fun was watching the talented bartender whip up the fantastic ingredients.


Tasty beverages with balmy breezes……

One nice thing about doing a property tour is the extras…like seeing the kitchen where all the action takes place. Let’s face it …food generally doesn’t prepare itself… and the culinary team at Turtle Inn is extremely talented and focused on guests culinary pleasures. A cheery pizza oven greeted us in the back and seeing how the staff operated in unison under the chef’s direction was artistry in motion.


The chef and Coppola Properties GM

We were seated in the main dining room of  Mare, an open-aire dining room under thatched roofs….true to form, the website talks about fresh seafood brought in daily from the reef and we were not disappointed. Tasty and succulent lobster….seafood dishes and an array of foods to display the talents of the chef and the culinary staff. Consummate professionals all….!


Gourmet beachside dining…food as far as the eye can see


A number of other eateries are available onsite (feel free to check out their website


The nice thing about Turtle Inn is the fact that it has an intimate feel, after all, it is a 25-room seafront spot hidden from the crowds, so you don’t end up with copious numbers of guests competing for space and the time of the staff.  All of the rooms are comprised of individual thatched cottages, with a décor package focused on handcrafted Balinese furnishings. The resort is “green” in that the rooms are naturally cooled by constant and ever-present sea breezes. 

A room with a view….

As I featured in a prior blog, the resort has two beautiful pools and of course the clear Caribbean ocean. (or splurge on the villa with its own pool for some true luxury!!)

With all of my recent business trips...I would love to try out the spa facilities and perhaps grab a Kindle and catch up on some beachside reading, but then…. the offshore reef and colorful coral and fish also beckon.

While we did not get to sample the food at our last stop on the property…I heartily recommend a walk over to Auntie Luba’s, the authentic Belizean diner. Auntie Luba’s overlooks the Placencia Lagoon and features a menu of regional cuisine like curry chicken, coconut shrimp and hearty beef stew, all served up with the sun glinting off of the lagoon.

Turtle Inn…a winter escape...a culinary dream …and a place to feel warm breezes..

Cheese – A versatile food for many occasions

Posted: March 15, 2011
by: Mark Stine

Cheese is a wonderful food that offers almost limitless varieties from a number of milk sources (cows, sheep, buffalo or goats and rapidly expanding into more exotic varieties made from camel and even horse milk!!) and today exotic cheeses can be found in almost every grocery that features a gourmet  cheese department, as opposed to just a dairy aisle with American Kraft singles or a brick of sharp cheddar….which have their place too, but isn’t variety wonderful?


An array of cheese varieties

Cheese types, textures, flavor profiles come from all parts of the world today, but cheese has been on a global evolution since it was first produced somewhere in the European, greater Mediterranean arena, or Central Asia. Actual origins are not recorded as it predates recorded history, but today like the proliferation of wines, production of cheese has gone global in a big way.

Today however we have so many choices and consumers can experience the myriad of cheese types that are produced around the world. Thanks to the internet, you can often order right from the source.

There is even a relatively new magazine and web portal devoted to the subject, “Culture- the word on cheese.”  http://www.culturecheesemag.com which features great articles…background on cheese production and a cheese finder directory which will let you track down a cheese near you! They have an interesting column online “ Ask the Cheesemonger” which has detailed answers to cheese questions and the best part is that all of the subject matter is archived.

Culture cover 
A cover shot of Culture magazine. (I liked it so much I snagged some back issues on ebay!)

On a local level here in Summerlin ( Las Vegas) where I live,  I have been very lucky to establish a great contact at my local Smith’s grocery store.. Marisa heads up the gourmet cheese department and features samplings of new and unique varieties of cheese. She is my go to expert and she works closely with the head of the wine department on wine and cheese tastings.

Marisa goes through a lot of cheese as her recommendations are well received and her customers come back for her counsel and advice. Smith’s has a great employee with Marisa conveying a winning smile along with experience. She has contributed greatly to my exposure to new types of cheese and I look forward to more advice.





Marisa…great advice form a cheese professional – the gourmet department at Smith’s

While I tend to think of cheese as a stand alone for my usage, it also makes numerous appearances in recipes. A favorite spot for recipes is:ilovecheese http://www.ilovecheese.com/default.htm   or to check out a variety of cheeses…go to www.cheese.com which has over 670 cheeses in it’s database which you can also search by country of origin.


A cheese platter looking and tasting good

An ancient history…a burgeoning future as new cheeses and flavor combinations hit the market….cheese…it’s what’s for dinner…or lunch….or breakfast!