Ritz Carlton Kyoto- a Japanese Jewel Box!

Ritz Carlton Kyoto


One checks in and gets an immediate sense of

Ritz Carlton Kyoto

Flowers at the Ritz Carlton Kyoto

Kyoto. Japanese culture is on display in every corner. Rooms are luxurious with a floor to ceiling window view of the city. Japanese design with an extreme sense of luxury. Both 5 Star hotels in Kyoto, the Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons are superb choices for an experience in Kyoto.

East Africa – Ultimate Experience for Kids

Chyulu Hills Kenya


Waking up to a kind voice saying Jambo and bringing hot chocolate, African sunrises and sunsets in that unlimited sky, rain storms rolling across the plains, almost running over a sleeping lion in the tall grass, learning about animal alarm calls when a predator is near, smells of a night fire, adopting orphan elephants, feeding Giraffe from your hand, learning polite words in Swahili, making bows and arrows with a Masai warrior, learning to build a fire from dung, visiting a Masai village, seeing the joy on children’s faces when giving mosquito nets to a school, visiting Karen Blixen’s home, sundowners, hearing the sounds of thousands of wildebeest in the migration, experiencing new food and tastes, the list can go on for days.
Learning and understanding wildlife in their habitat, watching them up closely in their daily activities is the ultimate thrill. There is so much the children expeiienced that cannot be listed. The enrichment was immense and incredibly satisfying to experience. A window in time that will never be recaptured. Traveling with children is priceless.

Moroccan Desert

Our intrepid group on top of a dune

Our intrepid group on top of a dune

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Our camel guide

Our camel guide

A Foray into the Moroccan Desert

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I can check camel riding off my list

I can check camel riding off my list

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Heritage Camp in the Moroccan Desert

What an adventure! The utter silence! The serenity of the sand. Luxurious tented camps that had all possible comforts. I can check camel riding off the list. We hiked up to the highest dune on our vicinity. We watched a sunset and then the next morning rode to watch the sunrise. We had dinner in the main tent, entertained by a group of local musicians. Fun to listen to indigenous music. The fabulous food that comes from an isolated kitchen always amazes me. Wine was flowing- couldn’t have asked for more.

Sightings on Rapida Island Galapagos

Galapagos Grey Herron

Galapagos Grey Herron

one of the striking birds we saw on Rapida Island was the Galapagos Grey Heron. We also saw Penguins, and Pelicans that rest in the mangroves. We continue to marvel at the plenthora of exotic birds and animals that are indigenous to the Islands of the Galapagos.

Canyon Ranch – health and wellness focus

Typical salad Canyon Ranch
Surpringly sumptuous food is always on the menu. Canyon Ranch includes all meals and a long list of interesting activities. Portions are smaller than a normal restaurant – typically the meat or fish is 3 Ounces. Alcohol is not offered and I did not miss it.

Recipes from the Road

Tart MoloriPeacan Treacle Tart

Singita Sasakwa- image courtesy of Singita

Singita Sasakwa- image courtesy of Singita

Recipes from the Road: Singita Grumeti Saskwa

Probably the finest resort in East Africa, Singita Sasakwa is unrivaled in elegance.
Patterned after an English Manor House, Sasakwa sits over the Grumeti Plain offering magnificent views of game below.

Recipes from the Road: picture courtesy of O&O Capetown

ROASTED PEARS WITH ORANGE-DATE PUREE, BRANDY ANGLAISE AND CRISP CINNAMON WAIVERS

9 pears, peeled, cored and quartered
1 cup sugar syrup
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pulp and pod of 1 vanilla bean
6 medjool dates, julienned, plus 3 chopped
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup water
Pear-brandy anglaisse

Cook the pears with the sugar syrup, lemon juice and vanilla pulp and pod over medium heat for 10 minutes or until tender.
To prepare the dates: cook the julienned dates in orange juice until just warm. Remove the dates and reserve the juice. Dice 2 tablespoons of the dates for garnish.
To make the date puree, place 3 chopped dates in a blender with the water and the reserved orange juice. Puree for three minutes or until smooth.

Pear-brandy anglaisse
¼ cup sugar
½ cup cream
½ ripe pear, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons brandy

Dissolve the sugar in the cream over medium heat. Add the pear and simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until the pear is softened. Puree the mixture and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Stir in the brandy. Re-blend just before serving.

Crisp cinnamon, ginger wafers
1 cup caster sugar
4½ oz golden syrup
1 stick plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
4½ oz plain flour
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Combine sugar, golden syrup, butter, orange juice and zest in a sauce pan over low heat until the butter has melted. Stir thoroughly, and then remove from the heat. Sift the flour and spices into a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the golden syrup mixture and stir until well combined and smooth. Drop small teaspoons of the batter onto the prepared baking trays, leaving 2 inches between each one to allow for spreading. Bake for 8 minutes, until an even golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

One and Only Capetown- picture courtesy of O&O

Recipes from the Road: One and Only Capetown- about the chef Rueben Riffel

A fairly new luxury hotel on the scene is the One and Only Capetown . I love the location, down by the waterfront. They have a particularily good children’s program and it lives up to the One and Only reputation for ultra Luxe accomodations. I especially like the villas that are separate from the main building. The restaurants are fabulous: Nobu- yes that one, and the wildly popular Reubens.
From One and Only’s bio page:
REUBEN RIFFEL, EXECUTIVE CHEF, ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN

Internationally recognized for his award-winning restaurants in the Franschoek wine valley, Reuben Riffel opened the eponymous Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town in October 2010, serving up wholesome bistro fare made from locally-sourced produce.

Having defied tremendous odds in apartheid South Africa to become one of Africa’s top chefs at 35, Reuben has come a long way from his home in Groendal where he grew up with 12 siblings. Required to live in an area allocated to Cape Coloreds, a mixed-race ethnic group, Reuben first mastered Cape Colored cuisine through his family, a style of cooking that continues to inspire him today.

Beginning as a kitchen hand, Reuben worked his way up the restaurant ranks in nearby Franschhoek, opening his first eatery there in 2004 that was promptly named South Africa’s Restaurant of the Year. Six months later he was named the country’s Chef of the Year. In 2008 he opened a second restaurant in Robertson, which led to the opening of his third restaurant in at One&Only Cape Town alongside the legendary Nobu.

The author of two celebrated cookbooks, Riffel’s most recent debut, Reuben Cooks Local, takes readers on a journey through one of South Africa’s most well-loved culinary repertoires showcasing local produce from the sea, earth, orchard and vine highlighting the sheer abundance of fresh local produce in South Africa and the Cape.

In November 2011, Riffel partnered with South African Airways to prepare some of his signature dishes for the airline’s Premium Class customers.

One and only also has a spectauclar wine cellar headed by Luvo Ntezo,
internationally recognized as one of the Best Young Sommeliers in South Africa.

Chef from Spice Village a holistic retreat in Southern India, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Recipes from the road- Southern India, Spice Village resort Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

From time to time I come across a particularly special food item and I ask for the recipe. We were In Southern India at Spice Village Resort. We were amazed at the quality of the food there, of course all organically grown,fresh from the garden, and totally wholesome. The menus were inventive and presentation was beautiful. This is a small out of the way resort, so we had not expected great dining and we were pleasantly surprised!!we were up for an early morning hike and these cookies were piled on a large platter for fortification. Divine! Thanks to chef PJ Aneesh
WHOLE MEAL CHOCOLATE & COFFEE COOKIES

INGREDIENTS

BUTTER 175 GRAMS
BROWN SUGAR 200 GRAMS
EGG (OPTIONAL) 1 NUMBER
PLAIN FLOUR 70 GRAMS
BAKING SODA 1 TEASPOON
WHOLEMEAL FLOUR 70 GRAMS
BRAN 1 TEASPOON
CHOCO CHIP 200 GRAMS
ROLLED OATS 85 GRAMS
COFFEE POWDER 1 TEASPOON
MULTIGRAIN MIXES 100 GRAM

METHOD

CREAM THE BUTTER & SUGAR .FOLD IN THE EGG TO IT.
MIX TOGETHER REMAINING ALL INGREDIENTS AND GENTLY MIX IT WITH THE BUTTER-SUGAR CREAM TO MAKE SMOOTH DOUGH.
TAKE AROUND 10 GRAMS OF MIX & PRESS IT BETWEEN THE PALMS TO GET A MEDALLION SHAPE.
PLACE IT ON A GREASED TRAY. REPEAT FOR THE ENTIRE DOUGH.
BAKE IT ON 160 C FOR 20-22 MINUTES.
REMOVE FROM OVEN & COOL IT ON WIRE RACK.

 

VinaVik with our host Gonzague de Lambert

Photographer Havana

High Mass in Cuba

Sunday in Cuba is time for Mass and we went to the oldest Cathedral in Havana. We were delighted and privileged to participate in High Mass with his holiness, the Cardinal of Cuba,Jaime Ortega, no less. No idea how we lucked out but it was divine. The choral music was heavenly, no pun intended. We did not understand the sermon, but it was like every other Mass ceremony, so we were not lost. At the end of the Mass I shook hands with the Cardinal and he asked me where I was from, I told him we were from the US and he just beamed. Really nice guy.

Day three Cuba

We started the day with a visit to a rum factory. I really did not know that there is a high quality rum that retails for $1700 a bottle USD. A shot of rum is a great way to start the morning! We made the pilgrimage to Ernest Hemingway’s home. I knew he was highly regarded, but Cubans adore him! The house was interesting. Full of bullfight memorabilia, hunting trophies, wonderful artwork, and loaded with books everywhere. It looked like a quite comfortable house. He had marked his weight in his bathroom on the wall, everyday.
After lunch at another rooftop restaurant, we visited the atelier of the Picasso of the Caribbean, Jose Fuster. Wow! Pictures follow!

Paladars in Havana

Small private family run restaurants were always popular in Cuba, but with the departure of the USSR in the 90’s and the subsequent economic downward crisis, licenses were granted to these private home restaurants. Some of them have the best food in Cuba. 
Last night we dined at La Cucina de Lilliam one of the oldest Paladars and one of the most famous. We were served champignons, then stuffed crepes, the Cuban version of prosciutto, lamb, a type of sweet potato- mashed and roasted potatoes, fresh vegetable salad, and on and on. They had wines from Chile and Argentina that were respectable. I rate it a a very good choice. Today we had lunch at another paladar near the oldest cathedral in Havana, La Mondena Cubana. I had a wonderful grilled snapper and daiquiris all through lunch. 

Saratoga Hotel Bar Havana