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Written by Puff Staff

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

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Another visit to Graycliff leaves us as amazed as always. Anyone who has ever visited the Graycliff Hotel in Nassau can tell you that the whole experience is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Set in a historic, colonial hotel, the Graycliff has the Caribbean’s only 5 star restaurant, a 250,000 bottle wine collection, and the Graycliff Cigar Company. The food, wine, cigars and exceptional hospitality of the Garzaroli family create what I call the Graycliff experience…..casual elegance at its best. The Garzarolis strive to be the very best in all their endeavors, but do so without putting on airs or acting stuffy. Their lack of pretense creates a casual, relaxed ambiance in the midst of fine dining with exceptional wine, cigars, and spirits. Top25Cigar visited Graycliff recently to see what the maverick Italian entrepreneurs were up to. Enrico Garzaroli explained that their core expertise is in food, wine and cigars. The family now wants to use that expertise to produce other high quality food and beverage products under the Graycliff moniker. While smoking one of their delicious “fresh rolled” cigars, Enrico offered me a sample of Vodka made from the alcohol produced from wine grapes. The European process filters the alcohol 7 times and then distills it 5 times. The result is ultra-smooth Vodka with very subtle, almost unnoticeable wine flavors. He wants to use this same process to develop Graycliff whiskey. Later, Enrico served prototype samples of a new hazelnut candy and two types of chocolates. Never ones to follow, the Garzarolis developed two milk chocolate blends rather than dark chocolate like everyone else. But in order to be different, the taste is different than any milk chocolate I’ve ever tasted and is quite good. They expect to release the chocolates by mid-year. Need a beverage to complement your Graycliff chocolates? How about a fresh cup of Graycliff espresso? Enrico told me that his coffee was selected over other premium brands during documented blind taste tests. Their coffee also will be available by June. Further down the line you might even see Graycliff china and stemware. Trying to be helpful, I suggested a Graycliff ashtray. Paolo Garzaroli told me with a laugh that it was item number 102 on his list. Guests will be pleased to see that every room in the 130 year old hotel building has been tastefully remodeled. The colonial décor and furnishings have been updated yet remain very comfortable. The remodeling even extends into the kitchen. Many upscale restaurants offer what is known as a “chef’s table”, popularized by celebrity restaurants such as Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. In the current format, a restaurant places a table in the kitchen where patrons dine and watch top chefs work their culinary magic. Rather than merely placing a table in the kitchen, the Garzarolis wanted their guests to have a more refined experience. Always the innovators, the Garzarolis created a semi-enclosed, tiled, “chef’s dining room” in their kitchen with a state-of-the–art Molteni stove/cook station dedicated to the featured celebrity chefs. Video cameras that feed large screen monitors (ala cooking shows) will capture all the action on the stove top allowing food aficionados to view every step involved in the preparation of their special meals. Speaking of celebrity chefs, it is rumored that Graycliff head chef Josh Campbell might be making an appearance on Iron Chef in the near future. But the Garzarolis have as much charity in their hearts as they have business in their heads. The day before I arrived, they hosted 300 guests for a fundraising dinner for the Bahamian Olympic team. In addition to the team, guests included officials from the IOC and the US ambassador to the UN. They raised over $40,000 for the team. The Graycliff has attracted the well heeled and celebrities alike. Recent guests include Beyonce, JZ, and Rudy Giuliani. Beyonce sang for Enrico, JZ ordered a $20,000 bottle of Petrus vintage 1945 and Rudy forgot his solid gold Mont Blanc pen in his room (later delivered to his office in New York by Enrico's daughter). But you don’t have to be rich or famous to enjoy the Graycliff. Anyone who appreciates fine wine, cuisine and cigars offered in the easy going atmosphere created by the Garzarolis will have a Graycliff experience. The hotel’s popularity was underscored last year when over 12,000 people responded to a cigar publication raffle offering a weekend at the storied hotel. If you’re on a budget, check their rates during off peak months such as August, Sept, and October. You can save some money (to buy cigars) by dining in their excellent restaurant for lunch rather than dinner. And Paolo hinted that a specially priced Graycliff Lifestyle Experience package might be available to Top25Cigar readers some time later in 2008. You can experience a little of the Graycliff through their cigars. But if you add in the cuisine, wine, and hospitality of the Garzarolis it’s a whole new experience, one that we highly recommend. Rob Shibata Top25Cigar



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