Monthly Archives: October 2011

A week on the Sea Dream 2 cruising the Med.

We just returned from a week on the beautiful Sea Dream  2 with a group of friends from the Seattle YPO/WPO chapter. We boarded the ship in Vallenta, Malta.

We arrived a day ahead and stayed at the Grand Hotel Excelsior. The hotel is in a good location however,the staff did not appear to be real organized.

If you do stay at this hotel be sure to book a sea view room. The area is called Valletta, the old city. We did find several good restaurants within walking distance. The one we chose for lunch was Fumia, on the street named Old Bakery. Fumia is located down a steep set of steps to a lower level of the Opera house. The menu had an amazing offering of local fish.

We went back to the old city for dinner with friends. We sat outside in the Palace Square and enjoyed dining at “Malta Restaurant”

The next afternoon we set off for a week at sea exploring several ports, riding bikes and of course eating in new villages whenever possible. Our trip took us to Palermo, Italy first then off to Mahon, Menorca. Most of our meals were onboard the ship but we did take advantage of riding bikes in each stop and exploring local sites.

Our first dinner on land was when we arrived in Ibiza. We ate in a nice local restaurant called “El Portalon”. This is a family run concern and the father, Tony, took great care of us serving local prawns, fresh tomatoes, the last of the season. The restaurant is located in Plaza Desamparados. Another group of friends dined at “Can Alfredo” and reported back that they had a good meal with Spanish wines.

 We did have to hurry back to the boat for our next port of call, Valencia. We had a full day here to explore the grand market in a most beautifully restored building. Then off to a lunch of paellas, local clams and other tapas as only Spain has to offer. The local restaurant was

Casa Carmina, www.casacarmina.es ,

a 20 minute drive outside of the center,into the area that the local Bomba rice is grown. That night we went to a upscale restaurant close to the waterfront called “Ca Sento”,  www.casento.net. Worth a visit, each dish was presented beautifully and tasted as good as it looked, a nice change from the food onboard. It is hard to prepare 3 meals a day for 100 people.

If you get the opportunity to take a cruise on a small ship it is hard to say enough good about the Sea Dream 2. The crew, rooms, spa, and food are over the top. We had way to much to eat and drink but it is always fun to have a chance to try something new in a new city.  Great to be home and sleeping in our own bed.

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Food lovers visit to Istanbul

After spending a week on the Gullet in Turkish waters we headed to Istanbul for 4 days of eating and exploring.  After a very crazy ride into the city in the worst traffic you could imagine we arrived at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel on the Bosphorus. The location on the water is beautiful the traffic in this area is terrible.

Dinner the first night was at Sunset Bar and Grill a view of both bridges and the entire city across the Bosphorus. The food was a B but the service and view were an A+. They eat later in Turkey so if you arrive before 8 most places are very quiet.

The next morning we met our guide Anka Benli and headed out to see the Blue Mosque and The Basilica Cistern before we had lunch and of course the Grand Bazaar was waiting for us. Anka can be reached at anka.benli@gmail.com or www.ankabenli.com , Anka has been the guide for many well know American chefs and personalities, including Martha Stewart, and Anothony while he was filming No Reservations.  After a lunch at Hotel Yesii EV in the garden restuarant called Sera we headed to the rug shop. The owner Recep Sefer is well respected and we were shown amazing rugs of every kind. Go to www.orienthandmadecarpets.com, location is Nuruosmaniye Caddesi #68 in the main bazaar. Of course I bought a beautiful carpet for a new bedroom in our Sun Valley house.  After more shopping we headed back to the hotel to rest and get ready for dinner.

Dinner was at a fish reataurant called Eftalya, www.eftalya.net . We shared plates of tomatoes and onions, fish balls, large local prawns grilled to perfection and then the waiter presented a huge fresh local white fish that they grilled and served at the table. the fish has a simple olive oil and lemon squeezed over. We were the only tourists since it seems to be a true local place. Be sure to go after 9pm for a fun active meal.

The next morning we met  Guzin Yalin, Guzine is very involved it everything to do with food, food products and cusine in Turkey.

Visit her site at info@ruhungidasikitaplar.com or info@ruhungidasikitaplar.com. Guzine does food tours, is a great food writer and help produce a beautiful cookbook of Turkish recipes. 

After coffee and a quick conversation sitting on the Bosphorus in an area called Bebek. We had lunch next to the spice market at a Kabob place called “Hamdi”. Guzin explained about the flat bread called Lahmacun with meat or herbs and Simit, a bread covered in sesame seeds and baked.  I learned so much in just one morning I look forward to our next meeting. Thank you to all the people tha made our short visit in Istanbul a perfect beginning to a long friendship with the city and new friends.  

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Turkey by boat

After many months of planning we were joined by 10 friends on a beautiful gullet in Turkey for a week of cruising. Our yacht was chartered through— bluefunyachting.com, the name of the boat was Caner IV. The boat was fashioned after the old style sail boat called a Gullet. Caner IV is 128 feet long  with 6 beautiful staterooms and was only 3 years old.   (Our boat and crew)

We picked the boat up in Bodrum, Turkey and headed out for 7 days of swimming, eating, and exploring. The food was so fresh and our chef created 3 full meals a day. We never ate a meal off the boat since you could not have found a better meal or service any place.

After each person would rise to sunshine we looked forward to breakfast at 9am the outside table was covered with platters of fresh fruit, tomatoes, peeled of course, cucumbers, olives and the freshest yogurt and cheese. After breakfast we would find our places on the deck for a cruise to the next bay for swimming and reading.

Our course was charted by our captain and we would move to a different port, bay, each day. We would swim in the 85 degree water and then get ready for a perfect lunch each day at 2pm. We had bought our wine in Bodrum and found that many of the local Turkish wines were not bad. Lunch was usually started with a toast of local rose’ and a few bottles of local beer.

We would often see our chef buying fresh fish from a local fisherman , they would come up along side our boat and offer their latest catch.

We did anchor one morning and go to a small village in Selimiye Bay. We went to the local market where the crew loaded up on tomatoes, peaches and feta cheese while the ladies did a little shopping at a shop called Ayna, www.aynabutik.com,. We all bought wonderful cotton dresses that the owner had created., not expensive and we had so much fun wearing them for dinner that night.                         (white night)

Dinner was started with the traditional mezes, 5 or 7 platters of starters, okra stewed in tomatoes, beans many different ways, kebabs and often flaky pastries filled with meats, cheeses and grains, hummus is so flavorful and smooth with plenty of olive oil ready to be scooped up. The main course would follow,  always a huge green salad loaded with fresh parsley and different types of greens.  The chef had a grill set up on the back of the boat and grilled fish, steak and chicken with lemon as the main course. Perfect dessert and fresh fruit ended another perfect day.

After 7 days we pulled up anchor on the last morning and headed to land. Thc crew pulled into the private dock at the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay just out side of Bodrum.  The hotel was great but after so many amazing meals on the boat, no one was happy about the food at the hotel.    I will publish a few recipes in the recipe section that I know you will all enjoy.

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