Combining Athletic Rigor with Personalized Care and Comfort
The Highland Kings Ultra, the world’s most luxurious ultramarathon experience, returns to Scotland with a new route celebrating the Scottish Highlands around Glencoe.
The four-day Highland Kings Ultra, which combines the physical and mental challenges of a multi-day, multi-terrain ultramarathon with extravagant comfort, will launch the second event of its kind in November 2022.
Covering 120 miles of rugged yet scenic terrain on Scotland’s west coast, the ultramarathon experience begins in November 2022 with a complete training program under the guidance of some of the most accomplished athletes and professionals in the world, followed by the ultramarathon in April 2023 through the dramatic Highlands of Scotland. The course traverses mountains and valleys, winding through forests and over rocky mountain terrain, celebrating the varying physical features of the Scottish wilderness including an ascent of 18,000 feet.
The Highland Kings Ultra, so-named for Scottish kings Kenneth McAlpin, Alexander III and Robert the Bruce who helped to shape the region, has been designed for those who want to tackle a real physical challenge but prefer to do it in style and unwind with the finer things in life.
Athletes taking on the challenge will embark on a six-month training program, beginning November 2022, with some of the biggest names in the sport including reigning world-champion ultra runner JonathanAlbon,along with international sports notables.
Anna-Marie Watson, elite athlete and coach and winner of the Oman by UTMB; Andy Blow, fuelling and hydration expert; Alison Rose, physio for Olympic athletes; and Alan Murchison, a Michelin-starred chef experienced in devising nutritional plans for Olympic athletes.
Jonathan Albon, the undefeated OCR World Champion, Trail World Champion and Ultra SkyRunning World Champion, commented, “For both fun runners or more serious athletes, this is a great opportunity to really challenge yourself and see what you’re made of. The detail that’s gone into the experience from the training build-up to the days of the event is simply incredible. Our goal to prepare for both the physical and mental challenges that lie ahead.”
Scheduled for April 2023, the 120-mile ultramarathon takes place against the backdrop of Scotland’s rugged west coastline traversing the deep valley and towering mountains of Glencoe, and finishing at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland, the United Kingdom, and the British Isles.
During the event itself, participants will receive ongoing personalized and lavish care with butler service delivered by Simeon Rosset, butler to royalty, world leaders and a-list celebrities; meals prepared by a Michelin-starred chef; and physical conditioning with Olympic physiotherapists.
Athletes will rest and sleep in a purpose-built athlete village on the grounds of a traditional Scottish country estate with high-quality, glamping-style Lotus Belle tents. Each room is furnished with a king-sized bed with memory foam mattress, fine bedding and linens changed each day, wooden furniture, cushions, throws, sheepskin rug, lighting, and storage.
Communal areas for relaxation and recovery include a hydrotherapy pool after-care.
Matt Smith, founder of Primal Adventures, creator of adventuring and luxury wilderness experiences and organizer of the Highland Kings Ultra, said “The Highland Kings Ultra combines the physical and mental challenges of an ultramarathon with the ultimate in luxury. “For this one-of-a-kind event, we chose the stunning location along Scotland’s coastline, for both the race and the training by elite coaches with advice, mentoring and testing to prepare them for a true physical challenge. In short, they will run like warriors and recover like kings,” he added.
Athlete Sian Slater, who is returning after taking part in the first event, said: “The mentoring and coaching programs are superb and great value. You are working with the best athletes, coaches and experts in the world to prepare yourself for the event – something I never thought possible. I learned so much and got to the start line in the best shape – and with a really positive mindset to take on the 120-mile challenge.” She added, “One thing I wasn’t expecting was the community we created around the training. By the time we got to the event, there was a camaraderie that pushed and supported us through the event. I can’t wait to do it again.”
Smith notes that the success of the inaugural event convinced the team to develop it into an annual experience. “The first event was a fantastic spectacle. The athletes who took part said they thoroughly enjoyed the experience, with some wanting to return for a second time.”
The event is the only one of its kind anywhere in the world, with the physical and mental challenges of an ultramarathon combined with the ultimate in luxury. Participants will be pushed to their absolute limit on the run but will also get the chance to relax in luxury each night.
“This is not for everyone,” Smith said. “There are many other events that follow the traditional aspects of ultra running. We are doing something a bit different here. This ultramarathon is for those who seek the physical challenge but with unparalleled comfort, luxury, and athlete support.”
American marathoner Adam Geyer took part in the first Highland Kings ultramarathon alongside his brother, forming a West Coast-East Coast USA team. He commented, “I was buoyed by the opportunity to challenge myself together with my brother, supported by Alex Paxton, our PT, and Alison Rose who changed my training routine. I had a knee injury and they helped to modify my shoe selection and strengthening exercises, and I was completely pain-free for the whole marathon. These are memories that we’ll never forget – this was different from anything we had ever done before.”
Spots are available for the six-month training program and event, priced at $18,200 USD per person and are available at www.highland-kings.com. Event-only tickets are priced at $9924 USD and will be offered to experienced ultra runners who have completed an event with an ITRA event score of at least four points or a UTMB index rating of 100km or more.
Highland Kings is the world’s first luxury ultramarathon, consisting of four days and covering 120 miles of rugged yet scenic terrain on Scotland’s west coast. Designed by Ex Special Forces communicator with an expert support crew for each athlete throughout, the luxury wilderness ultramarathon experience begins with six months of physical and mental preparation and continues with the four-day ultramarathon with the support of 24-hour butler and Michelin-starred chef service, physiotherapists, athlete mentors, comfortable accommodations and more.
Returning to the flavors of his very earliest years, chef Peter Serpico was born in Seoul, Korea and adopted when he was two. Raised in Maryland, he graduated from the Baltimore International Culinary School and cooked professionally at such well-known restaurants as Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City’s East Village. Serpico worked with David Chang, who founded the Momofuku chain, in opening two new restaurants. His job as director of culinary operations for Momofuku, Serpico garnered three stars from the New York Times, two Michelin stars and a James Beard Award. He currently owns KPOD, a contemporary Korean-American concept in Philadelphia’s University City.
Serpico was already an award winning chef when a taste of marinated short ribs and black bean noodles reeled him back through the years, giving him a taste of his original home. Now that reckoning, exploration, and elevation of the foods of his past has resulted in his debut cookbook,Learning Korean: Recipes for Home Cooking (Norton), Serpico has long been recognized as a virtuoso with ingredients but his lesser known talent becomes apparent in this book. He makes Korean home cooking easy. For anyone who has tried to master this intricate and delicious cuisine, it’s a relief to be able to easily cook Korean cuisine in a home kitchen using everyday home equipment.
Serpico starts with kimchi, that Korean staple often served in some guise or other, at every meal (and yes, that includes breakfast) with a recipe for Countertop Kimchi and then quickly segues into a master recipe that can be used to make a plethora of the fermented vegetable dishes.
“I also wanted to develop an easy ‘master’ method that could be applied to any vegetable, regardless of its texture, density, surface area, or water content,” writes Serpico before giving us the way to make Apple Kimchi, Carrot Kimchi, and Potato Kimchi, among others.
He continues with the simplification. Sure, there are some complicated recipes for those who already have or want to advance their skills with such dishes as Crispy Fried Rice–a recipe that’s a full page long. Add to that the ancillary recipes needed to complete the dish–Korean Chili Sauce, Marinated Spinach, Marinated Bean Sprouts, and Rolled Omelette which are all on different pages. But for those not up to or interested in the challenge, just flip to the recipes for such dishes as Easy Pork Shoulder Stew, Soy-Braised Beef, Battered Zucchini, Potato Salad, Chocolate Rice Pudding, and Jujube Tea as well as many others.
And while anyone experimenting with the cuisine of another country understands that they’ll need to purchase some unique ingredients, these are not budget breakers or, in many instances, so esoteric that after one use they’ll sit unused in your cabinet for an eternity. For example Serpico’s recipe for potato salad calls for Kewpie Mayonnaise instead of the mayo we typically have in our refrigerator. The latter uses whole eggs and white vinegar while Kewpie is made from just egg yolks and rice or apple cider vinegar. But the cost difference is definitely reasonable and a home chef might just find the extra richness translates to other recipes as well whether they’re Korean or not.
About the Author
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Peter Serpico was adopted when he was two years old, and was raised in Laurel, Maryland. Serpico graduated from the Baltimore International College Culinary School and his first cook job was at the Belmont Conference Center, where he worked under chef Rob Dunn. In 2006, Peter began as sous chef at the original Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village. For the next six years, Serpico worked with David Chang to open Momofuku Ssäm Bar and Momofuku Ko. As director of culinary operations, Serpico earned three stars from the New York Times, a James Beard Award, and two Michelin Stars, among other accolades. Serpico’s highly praised eponymous restaurant on South Street in Philadelphia opened in 2013.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Serpico was reimagined as Pete’s Place. In 2022, Serpico and restaurant-partner Stephen Starr launched a revamp of Pod, a long-standing Philadelphia pan-Asian restaurant, as KPod, with a menu inspired by Serpico’s native South Korea. Serpico lives with his family in Philadelphia.
Hobak Jeon (Pan-Fried Zucchini)
For the Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red-chile flakes)
¼ teaspoon sesame seeds
1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced (white and light green parts)
For the Zucchini
1 large Korean zucchini or 2 American zucchini (about ¾ pound), sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Make the dipping sauce: Whisk all ingredients in a bowl. This sauce will keep in the refrigerator in a covered container for 1 week.
Prepare the zucchini: In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini and flour, ensuring each piece is lightly coated.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and fish sauce, making sure to break down the egg white.
In a medium skillet or sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding, dip and coat the floured zucchini rounds in the egg batter, then add to the skillet and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side. Use a spatula to transfer finished zucchini rounds to a wire rack lined with paper towels.
Serve as banchan or as an appetizer with the sauce. The zucchini can be enjoyed hot or at room temperature; cooked zucchini pieces can be held inside an oven set to warm.
Ground Beef Bulgogi
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion (8 ounces), halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
2 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (white and light green parts)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Cooked white rice, for serving (see NOTE)
Kimchi, for serving (optional)
Fresh lettuce or cabbage leaves, for serving (optional)
In a large bowl, stir together the beef or plant-based meat, onion, garlic, scallions, sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup and salt until combined.
In a large saute skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the beef mixture and cook, stirring occasionally to break up any large chunks, until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Serve the bulgogi in bowls with rice, kimchi, and lettuce or cabbage leaves for wrapping, if using.
Though France is known for its fabulous pastry shops, in “Chez Moi” Greenspan shares recipes created by home chefs.
“In France you can get all the butter puff pastry you want in the grocery store and buy the most extravagant cakes at patisseries,” says Greenspan. “But it was really a revelation to me that the patisserie desserts are not the same desserts you get in French homes. These are charming, uncomplicated, satisfying, and delicious but they’re not fussy at all.”
Intrigued by what her friends baked at home, Greenspan, who has spent nearly two decades living in France, traveled across the country collecting their recipes—from Alsace she includes both a Christmas Cake and because of the area’s beautiful plump cherries, a cherry crumble tart, Tart Tropezienne comes from Saint-Tropez, Olive Oil and Wine cookies from Languedoc-Roussillon and the Soft Salted-Butter Caramels (be still my beating heart) is often found in Brittany.
It took Greenspan some five years to test all the recipes for this, her 11th cookbook, because it was important to her to bring these desserts to America. That involved testing and re-testing with both American and French flours and even traveling from her home in the U.S. carrying five pound bags of flour—one can only imagine the panic at the airport if the flour containers had busted open. Each recipe begins with a story of how she discovered it and where it comes from.
“The stories make the food more personal,” she says.
Surprising, there are several recipes calling for cream cheese including one titled The Rugelach That Won Over France. Before, says Greenspan, the French thought of cream cheese only to be used to make cheesecakes and spread on bagels.
That was before about a decade ago when cream cheese came to France “big time,” says Greenspan noting the French call it Philadelphia rather than cream cheese. And, of course, there’s Nutella which Greenspan describes as being the peanut butter of France.
She also includes a recipe for Crackle Cream Puffs (along with other cream puff recipes including one filled with mascarpone) noting that just as we have our cupcake shops, right now in Paris there are shops selling nothing but cream puffs and that they can be filled to order while you wait.
For those new to French dessert making, Greenspan recommends starting off with her Custardy Apple Squares and then Laurent’s Slow-Roasted Pineapple. As for me, I’m moving straight on to the Soft Salted-Butter Caramels and the macarons.
Brown Butter-Peach Torte
Makes 8 servings
For the filling
2 pounds, ripe but firm peaches
3 tablespoons (1½ ounces) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Tiny pinch of fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or a drop of pure almond extract)
Juice of ¼ lemon (or to taste)
For the crust
1 partially baked 9- to 9½-inch tart crust made with Sweet Tart Dough, cooled
1 recipe Sweet Tart Dough (recipe below), rolled into a 12-inch circle and refrigerated
Sugar, for dusting (sanding sugar, if you’d prefer)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
To make the filling: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice cubes and cold water nearby.
Cut a small X in the base of each peach. Drop a few peaches at a time into the boiling water, leave them there for 30 seconds and then lift them out with a slotted spoon and drop them into the ice water. When they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. If you’ve got some hard-to-peel peaches, you can boil them for a few seconds more or just remove the remaining skin with a paring knife.
Dry the peaches, cut them in half, remove the pits and cut each peach into about a dozen chunks. If the peaches are small, cut fewer chunks; the torte is best when the pieces are about an inch on a side. Put the peaches in a bowl.
Put the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and allow it to melt and then bubble. Stay close to the butter as it boils, and when it reaches a light caramel color, pull the pan from the heat. You may see some small dark brown spots on the bottom of the pan, and that’s fine; for sure you’ll catch the whiff of warm nuts. Wait a minute or two, then pour the butter over the peaches. Add the sugar, flour, salt and vanilla and gently stir everything together. Finish with the lemon juice, tasting as you go. I prefer the juice to be a background flavor, but you might want it to be more prominent, and, of course, the amount will depend on the sweetness of your fruit.
To assemble the torte: Put the tart pan on the lined baking sheet. Give the filling another stir and scrape it into the tart shell, smoothing the top. You should have just enough filling to come level with the edges of the crust.
Remove the circle of dough from the refrigerator and let it rest for a couple of minutes, just until it’s soft enough to maneuver without cracking. Brush the edges of the tart shell with water, then position the circle of dough over the crust. Press the rim of the torte with your fingers to glue the two pieces together and then, pressing on the rim as you go, cut the top circle even with the edges of the pan.
Use a knife, the wide end of a piping tip or a small cookie cutter to remove a circle of dough from the center of the torte—this is your steam vent. Brush the surface of the torte lightly with cold water and sprinkle it generously with sugar.
Bake the torte for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is deeply golden brown and, most important, the butter is bubbling. If you think the crust is browning too quickly—the thick rim has a tendency to get dark—cover the torte lightly with a foil tent. Transfer the torte, still on its baking sheet, to a rack and allow it to cool until it’s only just warm or at room temperature before serving. As it cools, the buttery syrup will be reabsorbed by the peaches, which is just what you want—so don’t be impatient.
Serving: Whatever you serve with the torte—vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (I like the tang of yogurt with the sweet peaches), softly whipped cream or even more softly whipped crème fraîche—don’t let it cover the top of the torte – it’s too pretty to hide.
Storing: You can partially bake the bottom crust up to 8 hours ahead and you can have the top crust rolled out and ready to go ahead of time, but the filling shouldn’t be prepared ahead. The baked torte is really best served that day. If you’ve got leftovers, refrigerate them. The crust will lose its delicateness, but the torte will still be satisfying.
Sweet Tart Dough (Pâte Sablée)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.
Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, whisk will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
To press the dough into the pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked.
Don’t be too heavy-handed–press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
To partially or fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust.
Put the tart pan on a baking sheet to bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a coking rack (keep it in is pan).
To fully bake the crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. (Keep a close eye on the crust’s progress–it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash). Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.
To patch a partially or fully baked crust, if necessary: If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to that the rawness off the patch.
Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months I (Dorie), prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer–it has the fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.
Excerpted from BAKING CHEZ MOI, (c) 2014 by Dorie Greenspan. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
No, I didn’t know there was an International Pirate Talk Like a Pirate Day (IPTLAPD for short) either. Luckily Mindy Bianca alerted me that it was a global event and gave me some background. Created by two friends in Oregon back in 1995. I shiver my timbers (whatever that means) just thinking of all those IPTLPAD good times I’ve missed for the last 26 years.
But not anymore! I’m up to date on IPTLPAD and Mindy has kindly pointed out places with historical ties to pirates as well as destinations which feature pirate-related events, tours, restaurants, and attractions.
Mindy wants to assure anyone who asks that she knows that pirates aren’t good guys and gals.
“They were scallywags who did things that would certainly not make their mamas proud, so we’re not here to celebrate their achievements … just to acknowledge their existence and the role they played in history,” she says, adding that pirates, no matter how bad they were, are certainly part of our pop culture.
So all hands on deck as we get started with our tour of all things pirate with a look at coastal Louisiana where pirate Jean Lafitte is legendary and intertwined with big moments in Louisiana’s history.
Not a whole lot is known about the early years of Lafitte, who claimed to be born in France–but can you really trust what a pirate tells you? We do know he ultimately made his way to the Gulf of Mexico with his brother Pierre to make his fortune—but not by hard work. Among his most horrible act was smuggling enslaved people.
“His bad behavior worked to Louisiana’s incredible advantage during the Battle of New Orleans, the final conflict of the War of 1812. Lafitte agreed to fight on the side of the Americans – General Andrew Jackson gave him the choice of assisting the American cause or going to jail – and the Americans were victorious against the British in great part because Lafitte and his buccaneers knew the bayous and waterways so well,” Mindy tells me. “It certainly didn’t hurt that they were no gentlemen; they ignored the established rules of engagement and used whatever means necessary to get the job done. The pirates led the British into the swamps, for example, and ambushed them or just let them get lost among the alligators and snakes.”
After all, pirates operate on the principle of “dead men tell no tales.”
*Please note that this region was recently impacted by Hurricane Ida, so now isn’t the best time to visit. Please put these on your list to visit in the future!
In his later years, Jean Lafitte established headquarters in Galveston, Texas, so he spent some time near the southwestern part of Louisiana. But in his earlier years he dominated the southeastern part of the state, where today you’ll find four of the six sites of his eponymous national park. Two of those park sites are within MBPR’s client destinations.
The Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Lafourche Parish are also known as Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou. Though the center itself, located in the town of Thibodaux, focuses on the region’s Cajun heritage, rangers there tell us that Bayou Lafourche, the body of water for which the parish is named, was among Lafitte’s preferred smuggling routes. He’d load and unload his cargo at the mouth of the bayou. But he and his band of pirates also aided the U.S. by preventing the British from accessing the body of water during the Battle of New Orleans. It’s a job they took very seriously indeed.
Over in Jefferson Parish, in the little town of Marrero, the national park site is called Barataria Preserve and it offers an incredible peek inside the wild wetlands of Louisiana. The preserve features 26,000 acres of bayous, swamps, marshes and forests that are home to plenty of alligators, plus more than 200 bird species and an array of plants and wildflowers. Wander along its boardwalk on a self-guided tour or accompany a ranger on a Wetlands Walk (tours are offered at 10 a.m. every Wednesday through Sunday) and it’s easy to see how Lafitte and his hearties could easily vanish in these swamps.
*Please note that this region was recently impacted by Hurricane Ida, so now isn’t the best time to visit. Please put this on your list to visit in the future!
Jean Fafitte is one of two towns in Jefferson Parish named for Louisiana’s favorite pirate (the other is just called “Lafitte.”) The region was a huge draw for Lafitte who found its bayous, swamps and waterways the perfect cover for his illegal activities. He favored places on Bayou Barataria, whose dark depths hide all kinds of secrets. Visitors can tour the region’s mysterious swamps (alligator sightings guaranteed!), enjoy some of the best seafood ever, and learn the history of the people who make their home here.
Jean Lafitte Harbor is one of the stops on the new “Soul of the South” tour itinerary, which was designed to help visitors learn the many untold stories of Native, Creole and African Americans in South Louisiana. The harbor is located along Lafitte’s favored smuggling routes.
Lafitte was a busy, well-traveled guy who sailed along and through the waterways of the state’s southernmost reaches. Legend has it that as he and his band of buccaneers were making their way west toward Galveston, enemy ships gave chase. To avoid being captured Laffite and his crew hid amongst the waterways of what would become Lake Charles. According to legend, their very favorite hangout was a place now called “Contraband Bayou,” an apt name given that Lafitte and his crew were reputed to have buried a treasure trove of silver and gold there.
This legend is celebrated in early May with the Louisiana Pirate Festival, which takes place on both land and sea. A highlight of the event is the reenactment of Lafitte and his band taking over the city, complete with cannons firing and the mayor “walking the plank.” Costumes are encouraged, and the event features live music, plenty of rations and grog, carnival rides, and appropriately themed pirate booty for purchase.
Louisiana loves a festival, and the Louisiana Pirate Festival in Lake Charles is one of the best.
We’re changing course now, away from Jean Lafitte and Louisiana and sailing on to other parts of the country, not all of which have their own pirate history but do subscribe to the theory that it’s “a pirate’s life for me.”
The Kalmar Nyckel is the official Tall Ship of Delaware, a sailing ambassador that serves as a floating classroom and encourages visitors to learn about the maritime heritage of Delaware and its historic ties to Sweden and Finland. The ship is a replica of the original Kalmar Nyckel, which was known as the “Swedish Mayflower” because it brought the settlers who founded the colony of New Sweden here in 1638 and thereby established the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. That wasn’t a pirate ship, but today’s Kalmar Nyckel hosts a Pirate Festival each June just for fun. Guests can climb aboard the ship for cannon and craft demonstrations and a variety of pirate-related activities. On select weekends when the ship is docked in Wilmington (it often travels throughout the Mid-Atlantic), visitors can also go out for pirate sails. This month’s 90-minute sails will depart on Sunday, September 19 (International Talk Like a Pirate Day!) and 26.
We’re not sure that pirates knew anything about reading and writing then that the letter X marks the spot. But the tiny pirates you find in Allegany County, on The Mountain Side of Maryland, definitely enjoy a good book. This summertime event hosted by the Children’s Literature Center of Frostburg State University is expected to return to its usual roost along Main Street of Frostburg (in 2021 the event moved to a park as a COVID precaution) on July 6 next year. Full crews of costumed lads and lassies and their parents take part in all manner of buccaneer activities, including pirate-themed crafts and treasure hunts. A children’s book author is always invited to present a reading and book-signing of their pirate-themed book; the 2022 author has not yet been announced.
Just one of the crew of small pirates who descend upon Frostburg, Maryland for the adventure of reading.
One of the oldest city’s in the U.S. Mobile was founded three centuries ago, and as an important port on the Gulf of Mexico, it’s certainly seen a pirate or two. No make that a lot more. To prove our point, consider the following. In 1711, British privateers pillaged neighboring Dauphin Island. In 1815, Jean Lafitte (yep, him again!) and his brother Pierre sold their ship, the Adventurer, in Mobile. River pirates such as Paddy Scott raided cargo barges as they tried to make their way to and around Mobile. The stories of these 18th- and 19th-century pirates and more are recounted during a 90-minute walking tour around Mobile’s waterfront. A costumed guide offers guests a step back in time back, teaching them to talk like a pirate and sing a sea chanty while also giving them a few “pointers” in sword fighting.
A Bounty of Pirate Activities
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama
Local lore tells us that the bays and coves on the north side of this part of coastal Alabama once provided shelter to pirates and privateers who sailed their ships into countless protected areas that hid them from view. Modern-day visitors looking for a taste of the pirate life can grab a bushwacker (a favorite local cocktail) and burger at Pirate’s Cove restaurant near the town of Elberta, which is about a 30-minute drive from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and an even shorter boat ride. The dog-friendly atmosphere assures that your best first mate can come along on the adventure, too. Back in Orange Beach, the youngest swashbucklers enjoy climbing aboard the Pirate Cruise that leaves Hudson Marina at Skull Harbor. They take to the high seas with a crew in full garb and learn about the pirates who once sailed these waters. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, those lads and lassies might also appreciate the Pirates & Princesses Breakfast served at The Hangout, a legendary restaurant in Gulf Shores. For one of their famed cocktail recipes see below.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
What’s Dolly Parton’s connection to pirates? Well, like Dolly, the swashbucklers in her employ are a fun-loving crew … multi-talented and great at keeping an audience entertained. The first Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show opened in 2011 in Myrtle Beach, which has plenty of ties to Captain Edward Teach, a.k.a. “Blackbeard.” At the dinner show, a modern-day Blackbeard leads two incredibly athletic crews, the Sapphire Pirates and the Crimson Pirates, who battle on deck, in the water and in the sky above a pair of full-sized pirate ships docked in a 15-foot indoor lagoon. The show features acrobatic competitions and an original music score by Dolly and Mark Brymer. The show also includes a four-course pirate feast. Who knew that pirates enjoy buttery biscuits and crispy fried chicken as much as landlubbers do? The Myrtle Beach theater proved so successful that in 2019 Dolly decided to bring the show to Pigeon Forge, already home to her Dollywood theme park. In November and December, the fun-loving pirates in Myrtle Beach truly get into the holiday spirit, adding a little “ho-ho-ho” to their usual “yo-ho-ho.”
Leaving the continental United States, we set sail for the Caribbean.
Negril and Montego Bay, Jamaica
Pirates abounded in Jamaica in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. One, Henry Morgan, even became the island’s lieutenant governor. But perhaps Jamaica’s most famous pirate was “Calico” Jack Rackham, who’s credited with introducing the now-famous Jolly Roger flag. Jack, who is said to have earned his nickname because of his preference for calico clothing including his underpants, and his band of pirates made themselves at home in Negril while they pillaged merchant and fishing vessels along the north shores of Jamaica.
His crew included two female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who were said to be much more ruthless than any of their male counterparts. Calico Jack and members of his crew were captured in Negril, which is where today you’ll find Sunset at the Palms, an adults-only, all-inclusive resort. Its family-friendly sister properties in Montego Bay, Sunset Beach Resort, Spa & Waterpark and Oasis at Sunset, share a campus that features a pirate-themed water park.
This luxury resort on St. Croix gets its name from buccaneer Jean Martel, who in the early 1700s made his fortune hijacking ships in the waters surrounding Jamaica. When Martel traveled to St. Croix for supplies, Jamaican officials received a tip that he was in the Virgin Islands and sent a warship into Christiansted harbor to capture him. Trying to escape, Martel ran his ship aground just off Beauregard Bay, right where one of the resort’s beachfront restaurants sits today.
Martel along with some of his crew were able to escape in one of the pirate’s sloops, but others were forced to hide on the island as authorities confiscated their remaining ships. As for the gold? We don’t know as no record exists that it was ever discovered. But then would you admit it?
Anyway, for the last three centuries rumors have run rampant that the gold is buried somewhere on the island. When the Armstrong family opened The Buccaneer in 1947– the resort is still owned by the Armstrong family and is run by the third generation–guests often spent their days searching for the gold. They never found it, nor did the construction crews who built Beauregard’s on the Beach, the restaurant that sits where the treasure is said to have been buried.
And here’s a final entry you probably didn’t expect:
Cooperstown has nothing to do with pirates … unless you count the name of one of the 30 Major League Baseball teams represented at its famous museum dedicated to baseball. But why are the Pittsburgh Pirates called Pirates? The team used to be named the Alleghenys, but according to Major League Baseball, it’s due to their habit of plundering players from other teams that they became informally known as “pirates.” The team officially took the name in 1891. The Hall of Fame and Museum is a treasure chest of baseball artifacts, and the “Starting Nine” is a collection of nine key artifacts from each Major League team. Among the nine items currently on display for the Pirates are Roberto Clemente’s retired #21 jersey; Willie Stargell’s 1979 World Series bat; and an incredibly rare Honus Wagner T206 baseball card, considered one of the “Holy Grails” among card collectors.
Avast, me hearties. We hope you’ll celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day in style! Wear your calico bloomers, perch a parrot on your shoulder, watch a few of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise movies, and above all, avoid walking the plank.
Surf’s Up Cocktail from The Hangout
Yield: 1 serving.
Fill a 12 ounce glass with ice cubes.
Add: 1 ounce Bacardi light rum, 1 ounce Malibu coconut rum and 1/2 ounces peach schnapps.
Then carefully, to keep colors as separate as possible, pour enough pineapple juice in one side of the glass and cranberry juice in the opposite side to fill the glass. Top with a generous drizzle of Blue Curacao. Garnish, if desired, with an orange slice and a cherry, which you stick on the end of a straw.
Curated by Blue Diamond Resorts, sixteen renowned chefs, such as Aarón Sánchez and Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe, will lead the week-long culinary festival showcasing mouthwatering cuisine and mixology demonstrations.
Signature Paring Dinner with Chefs Cesar Castaneda and Dean Max
Tuesday, September 21
Culinary Demonstration of Cauliflower with Chef Cesar Castaneda
Baja California Wood Fire BBQ with Chef Alfredo Romero
Mixology Session with David Araya
Culinary Demonstration of duck tamales and roasted peach coulis with Chef Jorge Valencia
Signature Paring Dinner with Chefs Rick Moonen and Bernard Guillas
Wednesday, September 22
Culinary Demonstration of Octopus with Longaniza Powder with Chef Federico Lopez
Beach BBQ Taco Party with Chef Tim Grandinetti
Chocolate and Mezcal Paring with Mezcalero Benamin Nava
Mixology Session with Eliu Salazar
Culinary Demonstration of Fish Tea with Chef Dean Max
Signature Pairing Dinner with Chefs Reyna Garcia and Cindy Hutson
Thursday, September 23
Culinary Demonstration of plant-based meatballs with Chef Zaraida Fernandez
Riviera Mayan BBQ with Chef Freddy Chi
Wine tasting and seminar
Culinary Demonstration of lobster tacos with Chef Aaron Sanchez
Signature BBQ Paring Dinner with Chefs Ted Reader and Ray Lampe
Heineken and XX after party
Friday, September 24
Culinary Demonstration of Tikin Xic with Chef Reyna Garcia
Classic American BBQ with Celebrity Pit Master Dr. BBQ
Chillout Jazz Lounge
Mixology session with Federico Moreno
Culinary Demonstration of lobster gazpacho with Chef Rick Moonen
Signature pairing dinner with Chefs Federico Lopez and Tim Grandinetti
South American BBQ with Chef Carlo Magno
Wine tasting and seminar
Mixology Session with Alejandro Perez
Culinary Demonstration with Chef Cindy Hutson
Signature paring dinner with Chefs Aaron Sanchez and Jorge Valencia
Sunday, September 26
With Safety Always in Mind
As the second largest travel market in the Mexican Caribbean, Cancun is the most recognized Mexican tourist destination in the world and currently the most connected. Its picturesque surroundings, authentic Mexican culture, and approach to safe travel is the reason why Cancun was selected as the inaugural destination for a festival of this size. Since reopening to international guests June of 2020, proper health and safety protocols continue to be in place to ensure a safe travel experience. That includes COVID-19 and antigen testing for guests returning to North American locales, advanced procedures at the resort level, and more.