Monday, November 8, 2010

Everyone's a Winner at the Turning Stone in Verona, NY

Our trip to Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, a small village in Upstate New York, proved to be one surprise after another. The first surprise was learning that the resort was home to an all-suite AAA Four-Diamond hotel – The Lodge. A beautiful enclosed walkway connects the hotel to the gaming area but the ambiance is pastoral. The Turning Stone Resort and Casino sits on over 1,200 acres of pristine wooded, rolling hills with the area around the buildings beautifully landscaped.

No sooner had we checked into our room and – surprise – Larissa arrived with a plate of welcome refreshments. Dinner at The Lodge’s award-wining Wildflowers Restaurant was another surprise. The international menu included Grilled Octopus and Pan Seared Foie Gras for starters followed by Dover Sole, Pan Seared Filet that was raised by the Oneida Nation, and something I had never heard of – Veal Cheek with Parmesan Polenta. The meal started with a Palette Pleasure to “get the taste buds excited” and included an intermezzo of Cranberry Ginger Sorbet but it was the chocolate at the end of the meal that really caught us by surprise. We were advised to, “Put it all in your mouth at once.” We did. Surprise! The chocolate was made with Pop Rocks that exploded like fireworks in our mouth. What a wonderful concept and an unforgettable way to end a meal.

The next day we explored the gaming area and could not pass by Opals Confectionery. Jeremy was just pulling out a tray of Chocolate Peanut Butter Bombs - just one of the luscious chocolate delights at Opals. “This is our most popular item,” he shared.

While we were “oohing” and “ahhing” over the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bombs we learned that everything is made in-house and the bakers were busy making not only chocolate and other confections but also gingerbread. At Christmastime the Turning Stone Resort and Casino creates an entire village of gingerbread. Executive Pastry Chef Jennifer DiGiorgio led us to the kitchen where everyone was busy creating wonderful treats including Kelsie Holden who was making Chocolate Roulade.

We continued to the where stacks of trays each containing 300-500 pieces of gingerbread were ready to be assembled into a village that ultimately included a church, houses, and other luscious additions. When finished the amazing creation included over a 1000 pounds of dough to create the gingerbread pieces, hundreds of pounds of icing; and, of course, chocolate. The barn’s silo is made with hundreds of mini foil-wrapped chocolate bars and larger chocolate bars make up the sidewalk. In all 110 lbs. chocolate was used in this year’s village. It takes a thousand man-hours to create the village and each year the village gets bigger as new buildings are added. Located in the Emerald lobby, the village is a showstopper and a wonderful treat for young and old alike – the perfect addition to the holiday season.

The Turning Stone really lights up for the holiday. All together there are over 15,000 lights on the 35-foot Emerald Lobby tree and the 50-foot outside tree. The beautiful Turning Stone property will dazzle visitors with over 300,000 lights and one million ornaments resort wide. For more information check

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