Charcuterie To The Rescue: The Rotary Club of Belmopan’s 2022 Children’s Program Fundraiser Another Hit

There was much to savor at the Art Box on November 12, 2022. Decorated elegantly and filled to the brim with food and drink, the event was a delight for anyone fortunate enough to attend. With musical accompaniment, dinner, and a silent auction making up the night’s activities, attendees were in good spirits as they raised glasses to fundraise for Rotary Club of Belmopan’s Children’s Program.

Attendees to the Rotary Club of Belmopan’s annual ‘Wine and Cheese’ fundraiser were in for a gorgeous night programmed largely by partnering organization The Belize Collection. Not only did TBC assist in coordinating the multi-drink stations throughout the venue, but they also recruited TBC’s own Chef Rahim to provide a robust charcuterie spread featuring an ample selection of cured meats, aged cheeses, nuts, fruit, and spreads of all flavors and textures. 

Cheeses included BellaVitano sartori, manchego cheese, and some divine gouda alongside Western Dairies’ staples, such as Mozzarella, cheddar, and ricotta, produced right down the highway. Cured meats consisted of a huge assortment that would make anyone call for a cheat day. Guests could assemble a plate adorned (or stacked) with prosciutto, polish sausage, salami, and salmon. Paired with wine, sangria, and whiskey from the various drink stations, the night fulfilled attendees’ desires to indulge their full palette.

The silent auction featured various items at different starting bid costs, ranging from essentials like boxes of juice and diapers to big-ticket items like a weed whacker and charcoal grill to resort packages from The Belize Collection and other recreational destinations. There were even one-of-a-kind artworks available for bid, including a handmade clay lantern that received several bids. Attendees bid on items throughout the night and had the option to outrightly buy a resort stay if they met the sales price. Also on sale were bottles of wine from Fine Taste sold in custom-made crates by The Belize Collection. When the auction closed, the biggest bid of the night was $3,300 for a three-night stay at Grand Caribe Belize.

Providing the night’s music was the ensemble from the Pallotti School of Music. Comprised of violinist Chelsea Thomspon, flutist Stepanie Coye, Violist Aneselma Jones, Cellist Philip De Shield, and Bassist Christopher De Shield, the ensemble entertained the night’s guests with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, selections from The Sound of Music as well ragtime, and rumba staples, among others. Their presence ensured a complete sensorial experience that tickled the ear as well as the tongue with their set going late into the evening.

This fundraising effort is especially dear and personal to TBC’s managing partner Ian Lizarraga. He was the first recipient of pediatric orthopedic care from the program’s partner medical institution the Shriners Hospital when he was three years old. Following that treatment, his mom and aunt worked with Belizean physician Dr. John Waight to screen other children that might benefit from similar early interventions. With time, the Rotary Club of Belmopan took on the task of managing the Children’s Program. 

Once Lizarraga took on his current role at TBC, he asked how the organization could aid the program, thus taking things full circle with TBC now providing the program’s major fundraiser’s catering. Since 2018, the Rotary Club of Belmopan and The Belize Collection have collaborated to bring Belizeans an unforgettable night hoping to inspire greater generosity from benefactors for years to come.

By the night’s end, the Rotary Club of Belmopan had raised three times more than its initial goal through its auction and ticket sales, outperforming their last efforts in every previous year. This will ensure that even more children receive crucial access to orthopedic care. Coordinating and sponsoring the ‘Wine & Cheese’ night is just one other way The Belize Collection looks to contribute to the betterment of Belizeans’ overall well-being.

All of Belize’s Culinary Delight in Three World-class Resorts

When traveling to Belize, one of the greatest delights is the opportunity to appreciate a wide array of the Caribbean and Central American regions’ foods thanks to Belize’s melting pot culture. From the corn dishes and cacao drinks of the Maya people to the rich ground and seafood broths of the Garifuna to the punchy savoriness of Kriol cuisine, Belizean food has something to surprise and savor every day during your stay. At The Belize Collection, our very own Chef Rahim has taken elements and techniques from across Belize’s diverse foods and infused into them his own approach to make every meal a spectacle.

Chef Rahim got his start making pizzas in San Ignacio, Cayo and his cooking demonstrates the fun and experimental aspects of creating a seemingly simple dish a million times. Since his time slinging dough, he’s further fleshed out his cooking skills through constant study and exploration across Belize and its neighboring countries. With Rahim at the helm, The Belize Collection’s various restaurants have developed one of the most dramatic sets of menus using largely local ingredients, a rarity in the 501. Through collaborations with small-scale farmers, butchers, fisherfolk, and cheese mongers, Rahim has developed each of TBC’s signature restaurants into a one-of-a-kind celebration of Belize’s gastronomic history and future.

To start, there’s the multi-award-winning Grove House at The Rainforest Lodge at Sleeping Giant. Nestled near the Maya Mountains, the Grove House takes food more commonly seen on the streets of Belize City and elevates them through superior ingredients and delicate craftwork. Take for instance the BBQ pork tail where the kitchen team takes the staple pork tail, and smokes it over time to bring out a more robust flavor before pairing it with a zinger of BBQ sauce. There’s also the delectable oxtail stew, a Kriol classic, that takes free-range ox tails and slow-cooks them in a tomato sauce with vegetables that’ll help bring any day to a satisfying end. 

Travel south to The Paddle House at The Lodge at Jaguar Reef in Hopkins for an entirely different set of flavors largely inspired by the food of the local Garifuna people who immigrated to Southern Belize in the 18th century following their exile from St. Vincent. Now vital members of Belize’s cultural landscape, the Garifuna have gifted Belize with flavors not seen before in the Central American region. Chef Rahim, a great appreciator of all Belizean foods, has arduously studied their dishes and recreated them at the Paddle House. Get a taste of his take on sere, fish fillets fried to gold and served in a rich yucca sauce. For maximum Belizean wonder, try the craboo beef tenderloin, a perfectly grilled beef cut glazed with craboo, a fruit that expertly balances tart and sweet notes complementary to the beef’s umami flavors. 

Continue down the Southern Highway to Umaya Resort in Placencia. There you’ll be in the capable hands of the cooking staff at Restaurante Laguna, a lagoon-side restaurant where all of Belize’s seafood meet to whet your pescatarian cravings. Start with the expertly made seasonal fritters, conch, fish, or lobster, alongside a clarifying seafood ceviche. Cap off a day with the best of all reef fish, the red snapper, served up steamed in a plantain leaf with cilantro rice.

And if you’re ever looking for something a little more familiar, Rahim’s work of origin, the wood oven-cooked pizza is ready to meet your needs. Now with locations at The Rainforest Lodge and Umaya (and coming soon to Jaguar Reef), The Belize Collection’s, Don Tonito’s line of pizzerias offers a reliable classic with fresh ingredients, and signature combinations that’ll satiate anyone homesick and yearning for a slice.

The restaurants at The Belize Collection are also notable for featuring regular culinary events to give you just a little more cause to indulge. For instance, the Grove House features a regular pupusa night where the Mestizo staple fried corn meal is made-to-order for guests. You can also delight in the option of 2 for 1 pizza night at any Don Tonito’s every Tuesday so you can sample even more of what The Belize Collection is cooking up.

Whatever way you slice it, your time at any of The Belize Collection resorts will provide you with a bevy of culinary experiences you’ll be talking about long after you’ve departed the Jewel.

Umaya Belize, The Peninsula’s Only Sunrise to Sunset Resort

Umaya Resort is a rarity on the Placencia peninsula. Of all the places one can stay, it’s the only resort where you can wake up with the sun on the beach and accompany it until it sets over the lagoon right outside the resort’s gourmet dining experience, Restaurante Laguna. This holiday season, it’s the best place to be if you’re looking for somewhere that offers much of Belize’s aquatic environments in one luxury package.

With your choice of oceanfront and lagoon-facing rooms, you’ll be able to enjoy the entirety of the peninsula’s marine habitats without having to leave the place you’ve selected as your respite from a world of work and worry. Bring the kids and take them out to the pool where you can imbibe a refreshing beverage from the swim-up bar while they splash around in either the generous swimming pool or the adjacent ‘kiddie’ pool for extra assurance.

Enjoy the sea like a true Belizean by kayaking into the rising sun for a morning jaunt, or join a volleyball game in progress on the beach. Take a stroll along the beach and take in the horizon, enjoying the slow movement of the day. For those inclined to lounge like the local iguana, there are comfortable beach chairs located all around the property and towels at the ready if you decide to take a dip on a whim.

Visiting and looking for a romantic venue to mark a special occasion? Then schedule a sunset cruise along the lagoon where a unique balance of humidity, temperature, and air quality sometimes create an entrancing mirror effect between the sky and water that can only be described as sublime, the perfect once-in-a-lifetime experience to immortalize new love or reinvigorate and commemorate matured affection. For those that want to enjoy all of Umaya for a special event, you can arrange to have a ceremony on the beach followed by an extravagant reception at Laguna.

Umaya has also become known for its annual themed parties, including a masquerade and upcoming ‘Mistletoe Ball’ occurring in December. One of the peninsula’s can’t-miss events of the season, the ball is just one of several opportunities a person has to experience Umaya’s unique spaces with an added touch of glamor and whimsy.

When it comes to food, the menus are diverse yet cohesive, committed to the highest quality in ingredients and technique sourced across the country by The Belize Collection’s Chef Rahim. You can enjoy fried ravioli alongside seafood fritters and zesty ceviche for an appetizer to share with the table. If you’re looking for something more substantive, there’s always the ribeye steak, which will obliterate your former sense of how good a steak can be. And now as of fall ‘22, you can even score a scintillating wood-oven baked pizza at the new Don Tonito’s restaurant, located a few steps away from the pool. Pair any meal with spirit infusions made in-house and unavailable anywhere else in the country.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a shout out to the breakfast options. Have a cappuccino with a farmer’s market veggie omelet, eggs benedict done Belize-style with the ubiquitous johnny cake or a stack of pancakes. Want to start the day with something lighter? No problem. There are fruit bowls that’ll satiate and alert you to the floral aromas all around you. You can also assemble the day’s most important meal with a couple of sides, including bacon, pork sausage and the Belizean signature fried jacks.

Take the worry of number-crunching out of the equation by opting into an all-inclusive package. For instance, try Umaya’s limited 4 Night Stay (available until December 2022). It includes multi-course meals for every night of your trip, access to local spirits, and your choice of the Monkey River or Snorkeling Adventure Tour. Umaya also snuck in a return flight to the international airport, so you can enjoy your stay up to the very last minute you’re there.

Visit Umaya Resort, and experience Placencia in its fullness from sunrise to sunset.

Celebrate Turkey Day In The 501

Overview of the beachfront at The Lodge at Jaguar Reef with a small sail boat and the Big Dock ceviche bar in the background

Many Americans might be reluctant to leave the United States over the Thanksgiving weekend and risk missing out on one of the most American of holidays. Fortunately, though travel to other countries comes with an absence of America’s favorite feast day, a trip to Belize offers a way to have your turkey and eat it too. The resorts within The Belize Collection offer one of the most relaxing and exciting alternatives to a grueling day of cooking followed by a too quickly devoured meal with three days and three nights of leisure, delicacy, and gratitude.

Rather than devoting a full day of your vacation to prepping the turkey and fixings, visit the Lodge at Jaguar Reef, the Rainforest Lodge at Sleeping Giant, or Umaya Resort & Adventures for infinte courses of rest, rejuvenation and temperatures that’ll make you glad to be away from the extended family. As one of the major getaways for Americans, Belize has taken to celebrating turkey day in its own way. While not an official holiday, Belizeans regularly join their northern neighborhoods in a day of feasting on their own variation of the North American day of gratitude. In place of the mashed potatoes are assorted rice dishes with local takes on your usual sides while still leaving room for the classic centerpiece dish, a roasted turkey, a dish also indigenous to the country’s Maya people.

With The Belize Collection, your options are unlimited when it comes to how you can enjoy the holiday weekend. In the mood for a rainforest retreat? Get yourself over to the Rainforest Lodge for a few days of light hiking and hanging out by the river. Looking to get some sun to take back as a souvenir? Visit the beaches at Umaya and Jaguar Reef for rejuvenating light of the sort only available in the 501.