For the next few weeks I am going to post images of some of the destinations I have been privileged to experience. We are all dreaming of getting back on the road.
Japan- amazing ancient culture!
Polite, respectful, serene. We are finding the people of Japan to be warm and welcoming! I am privileged to be on a 16 day journey planned by Windows to Japan. Today we are in Kyoto at the incredible Four Seasons Kyoto. Typically the FS service is over the top, and this hotel was perfect.
Spain- Foodie Heaven!
I knew Spain has always been a dining destination – with 3 restaurants on the top 10 of the top 50 in the world, but never realized that basic dishes were a cut above. We started our dining focus in Spain with a tapas tour, set up by our fabulous DMC – Madrid & Beyond. Our guide, Carlos, took us to his neighborhood in Madrid and we began our tapas tour as Spaniards do, with a special recipe of vermouth to drink, and olives to sample. We then moved on to different small tapas bars ending in a supermercado in San Anton dedicated to gourmet dining.
We tasted simple small dishes with thinly sliced Iberian ham- there is an art to the slicing, olives, cheeses, bread, steak, fresh tomatoes, wine, wine, wine. An incredible experience, I strongly recommend to all that want to get a sense of Spain.
The rest of the trip was focused on Spanish culture with a food focus. We went on to sample a dining range from simple to the highest Michelin starred restaurant, such as Ramon Freixa. Freixa was a 25 course tasting menu with wine pairings. Be prepared for a 3 hour sitting- simply sublime!
Next blog will be about our favorite restaurants.
Created in 1953 by Jamaica-born entrepreneur John Pringle,Round Hill been a favorite of celebrities for years. JFK and Jackie honeymooned in Villa 10. Oscar Hammerstein was the first owner of Villa 12. Alfred Hitchcock, Bing Crosby, and Adele Astaire were regulars—as were Bill and Babe Paley. Beyond that, Noël Coward, who was a frequent visitor, stayed in Villa 3.
Cottage owner, Ralph Lauren did a major renovation on the ocean front rooms.
RH is located on a 100-acre peninsula that was originally a sugar plantation. The cottages are built on the round hills, sloping down to the water . The British claimed Jamaica in 1629, the infuluence of their best traditions still remain.
With a year round temperate climate and nonstop access from most east coast airports, Jamaica is a perfect destination.
Unique to Round Hill, 27 private cottages combined with 37 sumptuous guest rooms offer a wide range of accommodation options. For weddings,the RH cottages, allow families and friends easy access for private celebrations, mingling with hotel rooms for group gatherings. It’s Old World Glamour affords one a delightful Colonial Caribbean sense of place.
At Round Hill the words past and present coexist not merely peacefully, but joyfully.
I had the privilege of staying at the Stafford, Milestone, Cliveden, Corinthia, and Goring. All these hotels were outstanding. Particular characteristics will suit different clients.
Can’t wait to book them. London is all and all one of the best city experiences I have had in a long time.
I am checking out some new camps in Tanzania. First stop is Lake Manyara about 25minutes flight from Arusha. Lush green jungle. Beautiful landscapes, on the edge of the great rift.
The flight from Atlanta took an hour and a half. Poof! Before I knew it, I had landed in another bit of paradise. Tropical bungalows, recently updated with a Caribbean Colonial feel- lots of shutters – were a haven. Breezes blowing, palm fronds moving gently in the wind, I couldn’t believe how quickly one could just stop, kick back and relax.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Hammered by the weak euro and the risk of spikes in fuel prices,Delta Air Lines is cutting back on trans-Atlantic flights and shifting its focus southward.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that, just after opening the Atlanta airport’s new international terminal with additional gates, the airline is cutting five percent of its trans-Atlantic capacity. Delta will also cut one to two percent of Pacific flight capacity, for capacity cuts totaling three to four percent, deeper than the two to three percent cuts the company had previously planned.
The new flights, which will begin in late 2012 and early 2013, are in addition to Delta’s previously announced expansion at New York-LaGuardia, where the airline is adding more than 100 new flights to 26 new destinations this summer.
When its full schedule is implemented, Delta will operate more than 260 daily flights between LaGuardia and more than 60 cities, exceeding any other carrier.
Delta reports it is also optimizing its schedule at JFK to facilitate convenient connections to international flights. JFK is a major global gateway for Delta, which operates nonstop flights to more than 45 international destinations from the airport.
Another fabulous hotel I visited was Grand hotel du Cap Ferrat in St Jean Cap Ferrat. Old world service, gorgeous rooms and public areas, a delightful pool at the bottom of the property that can be reached by a finicular. A Terrace restaurant that was so peaceful. Gardens again were beautiful. Their spa was awesome by the way- it leads out into it’s own private garden. They have also done fabulous renovations and I am posting pictures of some of the rooms.
I had the distinct privilege of being invited to lunch at Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc during ILTM. They are closed for the season, so I got to see all the new renovations to the rooms. Divine! Hotel du Cap is probably the Grand Dame of the Cote d’Azur. It is legendary for it’s beauty, service food and location. The vistas are grand indeed. Gorgeous old gardens, the hotel is set in 22 acres of pine forest.
The following description is from Wikipedia which says it all:
Built originally as a private mansion Villa Soleil (Villa of the Sun) in 1863, the Hotel du Cap, in Antibes on the French Riviera, first opened its doors to guests in 1870.
Gerald and Sara Murphy, a young American couple who had expatriated to France in the 1920s, once rented the hotel for an entire summer, a unique event for the era as the French Riviera was not a summer destination at the time, but a winter escape for the wealthy. With the Murphys came many legendary writers and artists of the Lost Generation, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
The hotel was for many years famously known for not accepting any kinds of credit cards. Cash only was accepted though most guests wired money ahead of their stay. In 2006 this policy was finally dropped.
This famous 5 star property is composed of 3 buildings : – The Hotel du Cap. – The Eden-Roc. – Les 2 Fontaines.
Each year, the managing director launches renewations in order to offer the best prestations. In 2011, the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc has received 3 awards for “the best rooms”, “the best european resorts” and “the most immaculate service”, which are the resultats of years of work for the managing team and also all the staff; all dedicated to the well-being of their guests.
Lots of famous firms and celebrities came and still come to the Hotel in order to organize events or just to enjoy the Riviera’s pleasures. The key-word is discretion, and that’s probably the key reason of the success of this property “one of a kind”.
The location is almost perfect : the Cap d’Antibes is between Nice and Cannes, and there are a lot of splendid spots to discover. Inside and outside the hotel, guests enjoy several activity. For example, inside the Hotel, there are two clay tennis court, a Spa with “La Prairie” treatments, a overflow swimming pool with an astonishing view on the mediterannean sea, fitness, shopping, hair dresser and of course 9 acres of verdure.
Guests can also enjoy the amazing “cabanas” : hidden in the roc in front the sea, the cabanas are a wonderful place to enjoy the sun and the sea.
I am completely blown away by a small resort on the west coast of Mexico called Las Alamandas. A Virtuoso property, I had heard the name though the years, but I never seemed to give it a good look. The property was left to Isabelle Goldsmith by her grandfather 20 years ago, and building it into a 5 star property has been her passion. The grounds are impeccable, las Alamandas is a trumpet shaped yellow flower- native to this area. Hundreds of palms line the beach, the sound of the waves is thundering. You are lulled into relaxation without even realizing it! The really great thing about the property is that Isabelle owns all the acreage around it, so it is completely unspoiled. No encroachment as far as the eye can see. Your won private paradise! It has 17 rooms and villas. I am going on an exploration of rooms next.
I am writing about camps in the Maasai Mara that afford comfort and great game viewing. Copying from the Maasai Mara site:”Maasai Mara (Masai Mara) is known as Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Reserve, situated in southwest Kenya. Famous for the abundance of lion, the Great Wildebeest Migration and the Maasai people, well known for their distinctive custom and dress, it is without a doubt Africa’s most famous safari destination. Maasai Mara National Reserve stretches 1,510 sq km (580 sq miles). The terrain of the reserve is primarily grassland and riverine forest with clumps of the distinctive acacia trees.”
The problem with the Mara is the amount of people visiting. I encountered 6-7 jeeps stalking the same game. Not an exclusive endeavor in the Mara Game Reserve. There are some camps that are situated nearby and the game viewing experience is completely different.
One is Mara Plains. Mara Plains Camp is a small, high quality, seven-roomed camp under canvas and on raised decks with sweeping views across Kenya’s notable savannahs. It is among the smallest and most personal camps in the Mara region. As one of just three camps currently operating within the Conservancy, which boasts the region’s lowest vehicle density, no mini-buses and only one guest room per 700 acres. It is possible to avoid the high tourist density of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve proper, if desired.
No other camp in the greater Maasai Mara Game Reserve or Olare Orok Conservancy has the privilege of traversing opportunities of Mara Plains Camp. Guests are able to traverse three areas as part of their stay at Mara Plains.
Another camp that affords great game viewing is Cottars 1920’s Camp. The camp situated in the Maasai Mara, bordering the Serengeti and Loliondo reserves in an untouched exclusive concession guaranteeing privacy and an abundance of wildlife.
The camp accommodates up to 22 guests in authentic white canvas tents, which are spacious and luxuriously furnished. They incorporate original safari antiques from the `20`s, private en suite dressing rooms, bathrooms the main bedroom and a verandah.
Other favorites of mine are Bateleur, Il Moran, and Mara Explorer. All beautifully appointed and very comfortable.
I recently visited one of my favorite safari camps in the Masai Mara, Olonana. The tents are huge, and the decorative details are extremely well done. Number 14 has a white bathroom with a dressing alcove complete with blow dryer. Lighting for once is wonderful. I think the biggest drawback with a tented accomodation is the lighting. Forget makeup or drying your hair where you can actually see. And trying to find something in a duffle is a big challenge. The tents are close to the lodge and the walk dinner or lunch is not a long walk. Olonana is a Sanctuary Camp- part of A&K and the service is tip top. Food was outstanding as with all high end camps-I don’t know how they do it. The major drawback with Olonana is the road to the camp: extremely rutted and bumpy. A difficult ride especially if one sits on the back row of a jeep. We discussed the road with the manager, and he assured me that they are working on smoothing it out as soon as the rains fall.
My number one mission was to find the atelier of Anna trezbinski. Anna is a fashion designer from Nairobi who does extremely successful trunk shows in the US.. Among her designs are pashminsas that have feathers attached to the ends. They are absolutely stunning, and all the best camps in Africa have her designs I their shops. She used local villagers and does the most Incredible beaded jewelry, clothing with beading, bags, belts etc,etc. After some phone calls, my most resourceful driver, Alex, found her. And it was her birthday! I would love to talk her into visiting Atlanta, and doing a show there with my friend Betty Jo. I felt like I was in AliBabas cave!
I also found some local crafts shops and a wonderful curio shop called African heritage. I am bringing a group in May so I wanted to get some places lined up for them.
Another delightful place I visited in Nairobi was The giraffe center where I was able to feed the giraffes and they gave me A big kiss. Seeing those gentle animals so closely was such a thrill. I highly recommend it
Catherine Whitworth is a Certified Travel Associate with Sterling Brownell Travel. Her destinations specialties are SE Asia, Thailand, and Hong Kong. Her favorite destinations are SE Asia, Africa, France, Italy and India. She has been successfully designing travel experiences for travelers for 18 years.