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The Rum Diaries: Key West Style

June 16, 2015

The Gates Hotel is one of a kind…

By Rebeca Herrero

Key West, Florida

Key West, where sailors and writers lived in seclusion for decades, is also known as the southernmost tip point of Florida.   Here tourists view it as a destination incomparable to other cities that are surrounded by water, and just plain fun!

Decades old wooden houses give shelter to locals and visitors that come to escape their daily routine lives, and also to watch that incredible sunset.  As the expansion of specialty hotels take place in the area, one new property stands out, The Gates Hotel. With a fun vibe, and great décor, this unique destination located in New Town has a great volume of rooms, and is quite spectacular, for the record!

The Gates Hotel reminds us of boutique hotels in the world that must offer its visitors art, cleanliness, cool gadgets, fun themes, and most of all, a modern version of what sophisticated young adults are looking for in its accommodations.  The fun part has to do with its strategic partners….

The Rum Diaries, Key West Style!

If you happen to know Key West resident like Paul Menta (an import from Philadelphia), you can figure out he is one amazing attraction.

He owns the First Legal Rum Distillery near Duval Street, in what used to be an old Coca Cola Bottling Factory in the 1940’s.  Inside the distillery there are Coca Cola bottles that were hidden underground for decades.  His partnership with The Gates consists of rum drinks mixed at the Rum Row bar.  We tasted one of the cigar aroma mixed drinks, and oh boy, they were amazing!  Menta also happens to be a record holding kite surfer, too!

At Key West First Legal Rum you can taste the “Up in Smoke”, which is a nod to the cigar industry, or the Tomoka Mojito, named after a famous rum-running ship.  You can pair a drink with a Rodriguez Cigar, another partner of The Gates Hotel.

De La Gallery in Old Town was chosen to be a part of the décor at the hotel.  Here, Cuban artist and photographer Jorge de la Torriente exhibits digital editions of Key West images that are also available to its patrons.

Amazing food, the culinary experience trend

The Blind Pig is The Gates’ signature food truck serving tapas-style selection of regional Cuban, Bahamian, Caribbean and Floridian flavors- also known as “conch fusion”.  Spearheaded by local chef David Fuhrman of Great Events Catering, The Blind Pig’s menu is seasonally-inspired and constantly rotating with dishes, including conch salads, grouper sliders and a modern take on the muffuletta sandwich.

The cooking demonstrations at Isle Cook are a wondrous activity for the visitor who wants to enjoy leisure time with great food.  Whether you want to taste a heirloom tomato gazpacho with mango salsa, or baked spaghetti beef tongue in parchment paper with Mediterranean Anchovies from local super star chefs, the wine pairing is a fun experience for foodies.  The lessons are priced from $70 to $150 per person.  Worth every penny….

Many bars are located alongside the strip of Duval Street.  Here you will find plenty of old and new locations to taste a variety of beers and wines, or enjoy that mojito during a humid afternoon, ready to cool your taste buds already saturated with seafood and spicy new southern dishes.

Because Key West is the place to go, no matter where you live in the world…….


Other amenities

-Martone Cycling Company, custom-designed blue and white bikes exclusive to the hotel.

-Experience the sunset sail boats owned and operated by Fury Water Adventures near Sloppy Joe’s.


The Gates Hotel- Key West (rooms start at $249 a night) is located at 3824 N. Roosevelt Boulevard in Key West, 33040.  For reservations call 305-320-0930 or visit

You can also visit:  @GatesKeyWest on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and Gates Hotel-Key West on Facebook.

Where to Eat & Shop

How Olimpia Zuccarelli Is Re-shaping the World of Italian Cuisine with Her New Self-published Book

June 16, 2015

For a seat at my table…

Her beauty and charisma captivates everyone, much like many celebrated international female cooks like Nigella Lawson or Martha Stewart.  Olimpia Zuccarelli not only knows how to cook, she is also a powerhouse in the world of restaurant entrepreneurs who are taking the media by storm.  Olimpia’s sophistication exudes an attractiveness that is unparalleled by others. Whether at a fancy cocktail on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, shopping at Via Amore for a Jackie Rogers dress or carrying the Marley look at the Palm Harbor Marina, Olimpia is comfortable in her own skin. Her style is unique, genuine and out of this world.

She hails from an Italian family from New York, and started cooking at the age of nine.  Her mother still helps her in the kitchen of her famous restaurant Zucarelli’s located in West Palm Beach, at Military Trail. Here delicious and succulent dishes are imbued in your senses throughout this cozy venue that is reminiscent of an old world traditional Italian restaurant, with a modern flair.  When Olimpia gets in the kitchen, she means business!

Now with a self published book titled “A Chair at my table…being Zuccarelli: cooking, eating, living” Zuccarelli is set out to take New York with her charming personality and unique approach for the Italian cuisine. Her culinary expertise stems from a passion for cooking that’s been at her heart since the day she was born.  At the young age of 9, Olimpia involved herself with her grandmother’s traditional Italian kitchen.  Her mother who continues to be an inspiration and role model in Olimpia’s life, maintains an efficient and immaculate kitchen while training the staff to become a part of the Zuccarelli family and not just an employee. This warm and friendly atmosphere would make any foodie admire the duo.

The Zuccarelli family moved to Florida nearly thirty years ago, when the family decided to bring their unique Italian deli concept to a small town in Florida. Consequently, in the following years, the Zuccarelli family established one of the most recognizable and followed restaurants in the Palm Beach area, Zuccarelli’s.  She has been in Palm Beach for 34 years.

Olimpia Zuccarelli takes great pride when she states that “The name of Zuccarelli is very special to us.  With origins in Calabria, Italy, Zuccarelli is my family name.  It has a long and colorful history and I am so proud to have named my family restaurant Zuccarelli’s…I can tell you, I started cooking by myself by the time I was tall enough to reach the kitchen counter”.

In a world filled with competitive pressures, especially from corporations which establish box meal restaurants, Olimpia’s primary concern has always been her family.  She recognizes the importance of her family when she says, “I think my grandmother and my mother were and still are two of the most influential people in my life. After my grandmother passed away, my mother became my guiding light and mentor throughout my career as a restauranteur.  Having a great support system which encompasses my family and close friends is the secret to my success Of course without my restaurant patrons, I would have never been able to achieve a comfortable level of success in my life.” Olimpia refuses to cut corners and insists that the old world traditional family values and work ethics be incorporated into her business model and will always place her family and her restaurant family first when considering making decisions in her professional life.

Zuccarelli is involved with the community and is always ready to help support a variety of charities. Her philanthropic efforts have become well known in Palm Beach County, where her original recipes delight patrons and donors alike.  Her smile is seen while cooking at all times, never leaving an inch of generosity aside.  “I have always made a point to be grateful for the support of my community.  My restaurant is successful because of them.  Consequently, I have an obligation to give back to everyone who has given me much.  In the past, I have held fundraising events for several charities, ranging from animal adoption to fighting breast cancer”, adds the attractive brunette.

Recently, she confessed to have been surprised and honored by the nomination for the “Woman of the Year” charitable event for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).  “I recently held a benefit dinner at the restaurant for LLS which raised over seven thousand dollars.  This event was widely mentioned in the news.  It made me very proud.”  Her decision to write a book came to her a couple of years ago, after family and friends urged her to share her story of success.   “I wanted to share my family stories and recipes with my friends and people in order to help anyone with the dream of owning and managing their own restaurant”, says the entrepreneurial power woman.

The title of the book, “A Chair at My Table, Living, Cooking and Being Zuccarelli” represents Olimpia’s sentiment regarding the importance of sharing a meal with the people around you, whether they are a family member or a stranger.   For the Zuccarellis, it is customary to leave an open chair at the family table for anyone who arrives for dinner.  The book took her two years, from conceptualization to publishing a hard copy. She admits that creating and writing about the recipes were fun and exciting to her, but publishing the book was a different story.  During the latter part, Zuccarelli admits it was extremely difficult, but with the help of people around her, she was able to overcome any obstacles and finalize this great gem for food lovers.

When she talks about style, she describes herself as classy and elegant…with a sprinkle of an adventurous spirit.  She admits to be surrounded by family and people she trusts.  She also says she is a constant traveler who loves to go shopping to New York, The Hamptons, Palm Beach, Milano and everywhere in Italy.  Her vast experience in wine is a testament to a great selection she carries at her restaurant.

The secret to her success?  Consistency.  “I want to give it all at this point in my life.  I want to pursue a television career and conduct seminars around the country which will focus on building entrepreneurial skills as well as develop the confidence to build your own business into a success.  “The importance of a successful business is CONSISTENCY in product and service.  Hands on management, is essential in order to maintain consistent quality and superior service.  Lastly, there is nothing more important in the food industry that always buying FRESH, FRESH, and FRESH!

Olimpia Zuccarelli is a refreshing presence in our culinary world….

Where to Eat & Shop

The Norton Museum

December 21, 2014

Picasso - L'Egyptienne-web KK-LM15435 The Sleepless 01 hr-web Goya - Espana-web 1640_Watson-web VI00209D0000_000004ALDRID Gloss! 454_Rawlings-webVisit the Norton Museum in Palm Beach for great exhibitions. This new season The Norton is showing a retrospective on Vogue’s photography titled “Coming into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast”  (on view through Feb. 15, 2015).  Also Klara  Kristalova: Turning into Stone, features the sculpture and rarely seen drawings of  the  Czechoslovakian-born, Sweden-based artist, Klara Kristalova, in the first survey of her work in the United States. The exhibition is on view Dec. 2, 2014 through March 29, 2015.  Picasso’s Muses (on view through Feb. 15, 2015):  The centerpiece of this exhibition is Woman with Wrist Watch, from 1932, a monumental work inspired by Marie-Thérèse Walter, with whom Picasso was then in a relationship.  Also Master Prints: Dürer to Matisse (on view through Feb. 15, 2015) showcases more than 40 astonishing works on paper including woodcuts, etchings, engravings, aquatints, and lithographs that span a period of five hundred years. Works by old masters Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, and Canaletto are displayed with those of modern masters Degas, Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, and others.

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