Monthly Archives: September 2015

Mykonos, quick stop always worth the trip

We had been on a boat in Turkey for a week and felt like we needed to share a few days on land, Mykonos was the next stop. We had to take a detour through Athens to take the short flight to Mykonos. Remember that they will charge you for your luggage unless you have a  premier gold card on one of the Star Alliance airlines. We boarded the plane for the short flight to Mykonos, 35 minutes, and we greeted by the hotel bus and whisked off to our home for the next 3 nights.

We stayed at the “Mykonos Grand Hotel”, about 10 minutes from the downtown area. This hotel has just been added onto and each room has a little different configuration. We booked a small suite facing the sea. The best room was 320, it had two bathrooms and a large bar set up in the living room. We had room 325 down the hall, it was very spacious with a bath tub and shower on one of the decks. the service is first  

 class.

The first evening we had dinner in the hotels lovely dining room with open windows that overlook the pool and sea beyond. The food was excellent and the service was great. they were willing to split many of the dishes since we wanted to try many more things than we could ever finish. The next morning we decided to take the local bus into the village, trying to experience the local life. The downtown area does not allow cars so the bus drops you off at the top of the maze of winding alley ways all taking you towards the harbor. Walking along the narrow streets loaded with hundreds of tourists from the cruise ships is a challenge in its self. The narrow streets are lined with tourist brick brack, t- shirts and colorful linen shirts for men and women. We did find one very high end group of stores and realized that things at this time of year are discounted up to 50% and then you can bargain on top of that. The town closes down on 10/1 so their remaining selling time was drawing near.

Everyone found a few great buys, mine came from a shop called “Envy Monaco” next to Louis Vuitton’s store. Then we all met for lunch at Nikos Tavern  

 down by the harbor. We shared a huge greek salad, grape leaves rolled and stuffed with rice and herbs, octopus grilled and served with lemon. The rose wine in Greece is not expensive and their local beer was a big hit on such a warm day.

Back to the hotel via cab, 10 euro, and pool time. the pool at the hotel is beautiful and they have great late afternoon service of snacks and drinks. The spa offers many services worth treating yourself to.

That evening one couple had a room with a roof top terrace so they hosted all of us with drinks and platters of cheeses and meats to watch the sun go down. Then we returned to the village for dinner at the restaurant “Ling Ling”, owned by the restaurant Hakkasan. hakkasan.com/lingling. This space is two floors, one is like a garden setting, full of grown trees and evening light. Since we went at 8:30, very early for most people in Greece, we had the place to ourselves, including the staff.  Since there were 10 of us they suggested a set menu and we added the peking duck, since we did not want to miss out on one of their best dishes. Be sure to reserve in advance and this is worth the  trip.

The last day we wanted to go to a different beach. After our lovely hotel breakfast, an hour reading by the pool and a couple people making use of the spa we headed out. We had a driver pick us up and take us to Nikolas Tavern on the beach called Kalaua. We wondered over to visit the new restaurant called Scorpio, lovely new upscale place overlooking the water. A quick tour of the beach with chairs at the ready. We went back to Nikolas, had a lunch of local fish, displayed by the owner on ice. Enjoyed the fried local shrimp and beer before our driver arrived for the return trip.

The staff at the hotel, lead by Georgia,  does a great job of helping get transportation, make reservations and offer suggestions of things to experience during your stay. The last evening they suggested “Avra” , http://www.avra-mykonos.com. A hidden restaurant set in a courtyard full of large trees and flowers to create a cool setting in the middle of the town.

We had a wonderful waiter that helped us navigate the menu and order a perfect meal shared by all of us for our last night in Mykonos.

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Twenty four hours in LA

Last week-end I was invited to attend a benefit in L.A. for pancreatic cancer. We have had several friends that we have lost to Pancreatic cancer, so I have been involved with the raising of funds and awareness of this disease. The concert, Remembering Pavarotti, who also lost his fight to pancreatic, was held in the L.A. Music Center. The orchestra played while Andrea Bocelli and Renee Fleming preformed as only they could. They are both icons of music and the chance to hear the voice of a pure tenor live was more than I could pass up. To top the evening off, special guest Placido Demingo, joined in for a couple of songs and then lead the orchestra as the conductor for several more .

If you ever have a chance to hear any of these amazing performers go out of your way to do so. It takes your breath away.

Now the good part of a few meals in L.A., the next most important thing to me on any visit to a city. When I arrived my friend Laurie pick me up and we headed to Bouchon in Beverly Hills, 235 N. Canon Drive. Downstairs you first see the small bakery that offers those macarons and nutty breakfast rolls, easy for take out as you leave. The restaurant is upstairs with busy apron clad waiters rushing around the tables that are draped in white tablecloths. The menu is simple, but just perfect for lunch. Of course we started with 4 deviled eggs with a sprinkle of fried capers on top. I had the French onion soup, rich with a beef broth and topped with a crust of bread and cheese. We shared a salad and a glass of Rose. Perfect lunch.

The next morning we headed to Suzzane Goin’s Tavern on San Vicente. We ate in the front where all the bake goods welcome you to choose those things that are hard to refuse. The scrambled eggs were light and had just the right amount of fresh herbs, accompanied by the best crisp potatoes you will ever taste. Suzzane has several locations so be sure to make this one of your stops. The restaurant also has a great bar and upscale dining room in the back.

After our 2 mile power walk we stopped at the Farmshop in Santa Monica, 225 26th Street, to pick up a few special items in the larder. they have some of the best licorice taffy you will ever taste. Time to head to the airport, so called our Uber with my treats for the plane and to share with Carl when I got home.

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Chilled Cucumber Soup

We have so many cucumbers in our garden and the weather in Seattle has been so warm, this soup was the perfect answer to my delema what to do for lunch. Buttermilk is an ingredient that often tends to turn people off, but in this soup it is a perfect partner to cool cucumbers. I like regular summer cucumbers better than the store bought English variety, the flesh offers much more flavor.

Makes 8 to 10 smaller servings

5 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded

2 tablespoons salt

1/2 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley

6 to 8 green onions, coarsely chopped

5 tablespoons chopped chives

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, plus extra for garnish

4 cups buttermilk

1 cup sour cream (light or regular)

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Fresh ground white pepper

1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes

Finely dice about 1/2 cup cucumbers, enough for garnish and set aside. Cut the rest of the cucumbers into one inch pieces, place in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let them sit in the sink for 30 minutes, this will draw out excess liquid, then rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Working in a few batches purée the cucumber pieces in a blender with onions, parsley, chives, dill, part of the buttermilk, sour cream and lemon juice, blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl add any extra buttermilk, sour cream and lemon juice stir to blend, season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, even better the next day.

To serve ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with finely diced reserved cucumbers, remaining dill and sliced radishes.

I love to serve in glass bowls, it is so pretty when brought to th table.

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Making tomato sauce two ways: 

Stove top simple sauce:

Add 1/4 cup olive oil in the bottom of a large pan, dump sliced tomatoes in same pot, 6 cloves chopped garlic and 3 tablespoons of salt. 

This is using about 12 cups of ripe tomatoes for 6 cups of sauce. 

Cook on the top of the stove over low heat and cook for about one hour. Depending on how much juice comes from the tomatoes you may need to continue reducing to about half of original volumn. 

I use a food mill to strain the sauce and separate the skins and any stems from the flesh of the tomatoes. Then I vacuum seal and stack flat in the freezer.  The sauce will keep for up to a year when you use a food saver system. 

My favorite food mill is made by Rosle and I use the larger disk for tomatoes.  
OVEN ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE

Set oven temperature at 325

Quarter ripe Roma tomatoes and spread in a single layer on jelly roll pan or in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil, probably use 1/4 cup olive oil. 

Then roast for about 1 hour 30 minutes until the tomatoes are lightly roasted but not dried out.  Let the tomatoes cool and then put them through the food mill. Once again freeze in vacuum seal bags. This sauce seems to be a little richer, so wonderful for pasta sauce or anything calling for tomato sauce. 

PS. You can also roast a head of garlic in foil with a little olive oil. When the garlic is soft you can add to your sauce, but best if used with in a week or so when you add the garlic to this sauce.

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