As expected, what's up for grabs is rare and sought-after.

Who needs 12 days of giving when you have 61 auction lots for a-winning? The lucky 500-plus Neapolitans who have tickets to attend the never-one-to-be-outdone Naples Winter Wine Festival (NWWF) will have to wait till Jan. 27’s live auction to get what’s really on their wish list. The organization, which uses the money bid on lots (auction-speak for “prizes”) to help fund nearly every nonprofit working with children in Collier County, released the full and final list today of what’s up for bid. Oenophiles’ thirst for the unusual will be quenched with a trip for four to South Africa led by winemakers Shari and Garen Staglin that will include private tours of seven of the Cape’s premier vineyards. As the festival is known for full, reach-for-the-stars experiences of your dreams, another prize features intimate tastings at three esteemed Bordeaux cellars paired with the opportunity to walk down the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. Because the NWWF chairs and their fellow trustees have a reputation for being at the forefront of the ultra-exclusive wine market, an interesting lot centers on the Ao Yun Winery in China, perhaps the first in that region that’s attracted the attention of global tastemakers. For those of us who may not be able to afford the weekend extravaganza Jan. 26-28, we can join in the fun through the festival’s online auction, which is open to the public and goes live in January. The prizes are also impressive and range from dinners at local restaurants like Ridgway Bar & Grill and Sea Salt to the same type of immersion travel but on a smaller budget (think: weekends in Tampa, Atlanta and Sonoma). So, perhaps stash some Christmas cash and splurge on the ultimate gift for yourself.


Aielli Group to Open Dorona, Joining Acclaimed Sea Salt and Barbatella

The husband-and-wife duo behind some of Naples’ most celebrated restaurants will open the modern Italian steakhouse in January.


How to Survive the Holiday Season


We all want our eggnog and cookies, but we don’t want to go completely off the rails. Naples-based nutritionist Betsy Opyt shares her P.L.A.N. to help you navigate.
Give the Gift of Cocktailing, with a Naples Flair

One of our area mixologist’s recipes was hand-selected to appear in an internationally distributed tome that’s hot off the press.

Dickens on the Waterfront

The Dock, roaring back post-Irma, is hosting its annual night of period costumes, festive turducken and other Christmas cheer on Saturday.

Recent Openings:
    • The Rooster Food + DrinkBryan Sutton, who made a name for himself at Veranda E, along with Lisa Resch and Colleen Connolly of Carolina Catering Company (a top pick amongst socialities), have just launched this tiny coastal breakfast and lunch spot in the former Oneyda’s location on Goodlette-Frank Road near downtown Naples. (It’s in the soft opening stage with a pared down menu.)  
    • Artisan EateryThis elevated café in South Fort Myers is from Tim Yoa, formerly the executive chef of the Naples Grande’s Catch of the Pelican. It’s poised to excel at brunch (think: Benedicts with prosciutto, arugula and truffled hollandaise and wagyu burgers with caramelized onions and Gruyère on brioche) and be open daily until 8 p.m. as well.
    • Bistro La Baguette: After suffering massive damage to Le Lafayette off Third Street South from Hurricane Irma, its owners have since relocated their fine French cooking here to this new location on the East Trail. 
    • The Original Shrimp Dock Bar & Grill: From the owner’s of Salty Sam’s Marina, this seafood shack is on the waterfront of Fort Myers Beach’s back bay.

Coming Soon:

    • Dorona: See hyperlink above.

    • The Saloon: Skip Quillen of Chops and Pazzo is opening this casual barbecue joint in the old Blue Water Bistro spot in Estero’s Coconut Point on Friday, Dec. 15.

    • Sails RestaurantAny day now in the coming weeks, we can expect this refined bastion of fresh seafood to debut at the far western edge of Naples’ Fifth Avenue South.

    • Sea Salt welcomed New York-based celebrity chef Bill Telepan for an Irma recovery fundraising dinner on Dec. 6; while in Naples, he also visited Golden Gate High School’s Pro Start Culinary Program.

Changes Afoot:

    • Starting Dec. 26, Blueberry’s in Naples will now have a Greek menu in addition to its regular offerings at dinner, which will include spanakopita, gyros, moussaka and other dishes from its owner’s ancestral home.

    • Fresh Fit Foods, the area’s largest local meal delivery service, continues to grow, moving into a bigger commercial kitchen; it’s also selling gluten-free and dairy-free Christmas a la carte sides to non-subscribers this holiday season.

Mark Your Calendars ...

Through Dec. 13: Southwest Florida Restaurant Week, with more than 60 restaurants from Cape Coral to Marco Island offering prix-fixe menus

Through Dec. 19: Whole Foods Market’s 12 Days of Cheese, with a different artisanal selection each day that’s discounted 50 percent and paired with wine

December (various dates): Annual Ritz-Carlton Teddy Bear Tea, a chocolate-fueled holiday bonanza for kids

Dec. 12: 21 Spices charity fundraiser for Hurricane Irma relief

Dec. 13: Barbatella’s Opera Night

Dec. 15: Purple Spoon’s Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes and Wine Dinner

Dec. 18: Tony’s Off Third holiday cookie decorating workshop with pastry chef Lexie Verbruggen

Dec. 21: Bar Tulia’s Guest Bartender Series—Eric Foster from Progress Wine & Spirits in Orlando

In the December issue of Gulfshore Life ... It’s that time of year for our all-you-need-to-know guide to the Gulfshore, from the latest and greatest restaurants to can’t-miss cultural events. Pick up a copy on newsstands today!

A perfect week of dining—a dream itinerary for breakfast, lunch, drinks and dinner daily
Picks for the Paradise Coast’s 150 marquee restaurants in 2017
 And more!

Were you blown away by a meal at one of our hundreds of amazing restaurants? Have you had an unforgettable brunch, date night, slice of pizza, slab of ribs, cup of joe, ice cream cone—and want to give credit where credit is due? Vote now in our annual Best of the Gulfshore reader poll.

If you have dining news to share for Hot Dish, email Dorothea Hunter Sönne,
Gulfshore Life’s food and wine editor, at dsonne@gulfshorelife.com. If you are interested  advertising in Hot Dish, contact Diane LeBreck at dlebreck@gulfshorelife.com.

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