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Return to Dubai after several years

Carl and I flew to Dubai on our way to Jordan. We flew Emirates from Seattle nonstop to Dubai. It is hard to believe you can fly half way around the world in 14 hours. Emirates will pick you up at your home if you are flying business class and then after you collect your luggage in Dubai they drive you to our hotel, in our case, The Taj Dubai.

We met several friends in the lobby and just ate a lovely Chinese dinner in the hotel, great food but very noisy. We arrive at 7:30pm so no time to go out. After a good night sleep our driver picked us up, we booked with Viator, owned by Trip Advisor. Our guide took us for a full tour of the city, including a trip to the old city and spice market. I always buy black pepper and saffron from one of the vendors, of course there are many hawkers trying to persuade you into their shop so take your time and trust your guide. After a simple walk through the gold market and people watching we headed to the grand mall. Each mall has a special attraction, this one had the largest aquarium and is located at the base of The Burj.

We had made arrangements in advance for tickets to the top of BURJ KHALIFA, It is a quick one minute up 126 stories to the observation deck. Since we had a time slot on our ticket the line was only about 20 minutes. It is hard to believe that just since 1967 a full city has emerged from the sand desert. The view of the entire city is available from the top, looking out at the hundreds of new high rises and cranes, you wonder who is going to occupy all that space.

We then did a quick tour of the Palm where the Atlantis hotel is located and wandered along the water front. Realizing that this too had been created from dredging the sea. There is no history here only new buildings and memories from the people that were living here before 1967. Our tour operator was from Holiday Adventures and gave us a wonderful full day tour explaining how the city was laid out and what was being built now. They work 24 hours a day building since the trucks and supplies can not be brought in during the day, to much traffic and congestion will happen at every turn.

After 6 hours in a car we decided to eat in the hotels Indian restaurant and were not disappointed. Up early the next morning for a tour of Abu Dhabi, about an hour plus drive. Our first stop was THE GRAND MOSQUE, the largest mosque in the country. We toured the whole mosque with many others, but it is self guided so you go at your own pace. It is hard to believe what has been built, all the white stone and marble, in lays of colored stone forming flowers up the amazing columns. This is a must if you go to Dubai.

Leaving the mosque after over an hour long tour we headed out to drive past the Emirates Palace stop for a few photos and then on to THE HERITAGE VILLAGE AND the small museum inside. This is just a recreation of what life was like before the discovery of oil. We did stop at a local restaurant serving traditional food, nothing fancy. There was not time to visit the famous museum that have opened their doors in Abu Dhabi. It was another hour and half ride home and we were in need to rest after 7 hours in a car.

After a quick change of clothes we got an UBER back to the base of The Burj for a great dinner at “BICE MARE”. This restaurant serves lovey fresh fish with a view of the BURJ where they do an over the top light show up the sides of The Burj with a music and water show right in front of you. We sat outside on the patio overlooking the man made lake where the water show happens every 30 minutes.

We packed as much as possible in the 2 days, but had a great overview of what Dubai is today, who knows what tomorrow will be like.


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Couple of days in New York with Joanne Weir

Why do we go to NY over and over? The shopping, the restaurants, a great show or tour of another exhibition at one of the many museums.

Joanne Weir asked me to join her for a couple of days to attend a conference about food, new cookbooks, and how the public communicates about food in 2018 and beyond. Understanding the internet and understanding what is next in food trends. The past 10 years has changed where a person cooking finds their recipes. Do they watch a video on how to chop an onion? Pull up an Instagram post on how a dish in the hot new restaurant looks or go to a recipe site to fine 15 versions on how to make Mac and cheese? We know that people are still buying cookbooks, reading publications either on line or hard copy and sharing their new discovery of the best way to roll out pie dough.

Along with the many hours of all the information we were taking in, we also had to sneak away to share a special meal. We arrive a day early so we could explore some of our old haunts. We checked into the Midtown Hilton, since that was where the IACP conference was being held. Dropped our bags and headed out to a new Spanish restaurant, TOMINO TABERNA, 192 Grand Street. Tomino is only a few months old and making a name for its self. They offer small plates of perfect Spanish tapas. We loved the little sausages served on a skewer in a cast iron pan that is flaming as it is placed in front of you. The service is excellent and the owner, Phil, was on hand to make sure everything was to our liking.

The next morning was our free time to head out and start exploring. We headed to Chelsea Market, this is a must for any foodie. We first stopped at DIZEN GOFF, the best hummus you will ever eat. Served with fresh out of the oven pita and a selection of sides, we chose the pickled beets and harissa carrots. Go early because it gets busy and there are only a few stools to sit on. Then we began wandering through the market, next stop LOBSTER PLACE, as you enter you see one of the largest selections of fresh shucked oysters in front of you. Choose one or ten set in front of you to savor with just the correct topping or just a squeeze of lemon. Toward the back they are serving whole steamed lobsters and a huge array of fresh fish of every kind to take home. You can find any type of food from around the world here so plan to just wander and sample to your hearts content.

Since we were in the area it was a short walk to Soho and a little shopping. We went to one of Joanne’s favorite shops, MORGANE LeFAY, they have beautiful selection of simple dresses and jackets that will please everyone, 464 Broome Street. Time for a glass of wine and light snack before we return for the first event at the conference.

Great stop in Soho is always THE MERCER KITCHEN, 99 Prince Street. The main floor as you enter has a coffee shop busy with late afternoon tea, wine and small desserts. We headed downstairs where it is cozy on a rainy afternoon, sharing a glass of wine and small veggie plate was the perfect way to finish our afternoon adventure.

We spent the next couple of days learning how to create a better video blog, write and photo graph a winning cookbook or bone a duck. The next food trends and where prepackaged food and meals are going. One afternoon Joanne and I did sneak out for a perfect bowl of noodles at KUNGFU KITCHEN in Time Square, 610 8th ave. They also have one in HELL’s Kitchen, 811 8th Ave. This was a great find for one of the best bowls you can have. I had the spicy beef with hand shaved noodles and Joanne had the veggie hot pot with chicken. They also had a nice selection of dumplings and bows, make time to go.

Later that night we went a couple of blocks away to MOMO FUKU, 15 West 56th Street. You will go down the steps to the simple dining room with bare tables and a simple menu. We shared several small plates and enjoyed the clean flavors of things like razor clam ceviche, broccoli salad with a miso mayo dressing and spicy fried chicken. They have a nice selection of wines by the glass to pair with the spicy food.

We stayed an extra day after the conference to explore the shops on Madison and see what the new year has to offer in clothes and food. Look for everyone wearing crazy tennis shoes, and simple casual shoes with white soles, of course there are all those very high sexy high heel shoes for over $800, in every store.

We share a lovely lunch with friends at NELLO, 696 Madison, 212-980-9099. This beautiful restaurant adorned with branches of the first spring flowers was a lovely way to relax and dine instead of eat. I enjoyed the shaved baby artichoke salad with just the right amount of lemon dressing and slivers of Parmesan cheese. The pasta dish with fresh shaved black truffles looked and smelled like Italy. We had amazing white burgundy to top off the experience and left the restaurant thinking we needed a nap.

The last night in NY was a true contrast to our lunch. We invited a couple of true foodies to join us for dinner at ESTELA, 47 E. Houston Street. Estella is a very small restaurant up a short flight of steps. When you enter you will be greeted by loud excited chatter in a room holding about 50 guests. The long bar runs half the length of the restaurant with little room to move past all the happy customers crowded onto the bar stools. We were seated at a small table and given the one sheet of interesting dishes to choose what we wanted to share for dinner. We had a hard time eliminating any of them so with a consensus and the help of our attentive server we settled on 7 dishes each one better than the next. The textures, seasonings, flavors and combinations of each was perfect. We loved the azzoz negro, the fluke ceviche, endive salad with anchovy dressing and topping of toasted walnuts, toasted bread crumbs and small bits of cheese, the lamb ribs fell of the one and the simple crunch on the top was delicious.

Always fun to spend a few days in any major city around the world with friends that love food and the adventure of discovery. Pick a new city and just go for 3 or 4 days it really makes you want to go home and try your hand at cooking something new.

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A few fun days in New Orleans

A few weeks ago we decided to spend a long week-end in New Orleans and enjoyed every minute.

We checked into a lovely hotel, The Windsor Court 300 Gravier Street. the hotel is a block from the French Quarter and perfect hideaway from all the crowds. The hotel has a nice swimming pool to spend the late afternoon when the sun dips behind the surrounding buildings.

The first day I sent walking the streets, watching the people, going to the many art galleries and getting a lay of the land Including a nice lunch at the bar of The Adelaide Cafe, across the street from our hotel. Carl went fishing for Red fish with a guide he had met. His fishing was a good adventure, he caught over 20 fish, catch and release, and I found all the places I wanted to take him back to the next day.

We had a dinner at “M Bistro”, not the best dinner but great Jazz in the hotel bar next to the dining room.  The next day we walked the river front, explored the back streets of The French Quarter and spent the afternoon getting massages in the hotel spa.

Dinner was at a small neighborhood restaurant called Serendipty, I had read an article in a wine magazine and it lived up to its review. Serendipty is a few miles  outside of town so make sure to arrange a cab. I had an amazing herb salad with shrimp and it was just the start of a great simple dinner.  (504-407-0818).

The next day we had an early breakfast in the hotel, did a little shopping at the many shope and then made our way to lunch at Nola–534 ST Louis Street. Nola is one of the many restaurants owned by Emeril and lives up to it reputation of great southern food. We shared a couple of starters and a main course. the staff was happy to split the main course for us since the servings are very large and we needed to save room for dessert.  Plus we had dinner reservations later and had to have time to digest.

Dinner was at R’evolution–this restaurant is very upscale and the attention to detail is much more like what you would experience in New York or San Francisco than what you expect for New Orleans. R’evolution has one of the top wine lists we saw. Presented on an ipad with wines as high as $10,000 for a big bottle of special french wine. We started the meal by ordering their BBQ oysters served on a pink salt block. We could have eaten a dozen of these beautiful warm oysters but had more choices coming, including a great bottle of wine. If you are interested ina perfect meal this is a place not to miss.

The next day we needed some exercise so went to rent bikes at Free Wheelin, http://www.neworleansbiketour.com, it is $25.00 for 4 hours. We did a grand tour and used up every minute of our 4 hours. The bikes are new and easy to ride, especially since the city is so flat you can ride forever. They have good bike lanes and the owner helped us plan our trip. We stopped for lunch at a great oyster bar called “Peche Seafood Grill” 800 Magazine Street– 504-522-1744–, worth trying.

The next day we had to go back to Commanders Palace for lunch before leaving for our late afternoon flight, it had been years since we had been and it is still creating great food.



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Skiing in Zermatt

We just returned from skiing with friends in Zermatt. We flew to Zurich and took the train to Zermatt. A few hints to make your trip easier.
You will need to change trains in Visp and will only have about 10 minutes to drag all you bags from one platform to the next and load your bags. Then since the seats on this leg of your trip are not reserved one of you will need to find seats while the others load the bags. We purchased our tickets on line before we left home so we knew we would have reserved seats from Zurich to Visp.
Upon arriving in Zurich we were pickup by our hotel shuttle and were happy to see the wonderful lobby at our hotel Alpenhof, 41-27-96655-55. The hotel is located half a block from the lifts so the start of each day was made easier. IMG_0658The Alpenhof is a small boutique hotel with a nice spa, large indoor pool and efficient staff. We reserved a suite and enjoyed the comfort of two bathrooms and plenty of space to store all our ski gear.
The lobby bar had a piano and a large smoking room where my husband enjoyed his nightly cigar. The first night our group of 9 had dinner in the hotel dining room, they had a very nice menu offering a 5 course meal with several choices. The next morning we all met for a breakfast with beautiful fresh squeezed orange juice and selection of fruit and breads.
Time to ski, we hired 2 local guides to give us the grand tour of the many different runs. The mountain is well groomed with assorted lifts from 6 seated heated chair lifts to huge trams taking over 125 people to the highest peaks. The guides not only knew the mountain but all the best restaurants on the hill, including the far side into Italy.

You realize that in Europe the big meal is at lunch time. I will just give a list of all the amazing places we were lucky enough to have lunch:
Our first lunch was Vrony, reservations a must–41-27-967-25-52, we were served huge platters of homemade meats and local cheeses, followed by perfect pasta topped with black truffles. Lunch with wine and desert was about $80.00 a day so be prepared.
The next day we had lunch at “Findlerhof,” you must have the the veal chop and quiche with salad big enough to share. Info@findlerhof.ch. we enjoyed our lunch so much we came back a second time. Great wine list, but remember you have to ski down after a hour and half lunch.
On Wednesday we made our way though the trees to a hidden farm house with a tiny kitchen serving a lunch to remember, ZUM SEE, is written up as one of the best restaurants in Zermatt and we believe that is true. Be sure to make reservations, 0279672045. The octopus salad was a perfect starter followed by pasta or mussels in broth.
As the week went on we wondered what was left since each day seemed to top the day before. Our guides took us to a new restaurant called “Stafelalp”, owned by a young couple that we’re serving some creative dishes. We shared an herb fondue with fresh cubes of bread. One of the group was served a white wine soup that was brought to the table in a glass jar with sealed lid. Info@stafelalp
Our guides from Zermatt ski and snowboard school were great and made our week on their mountain one to remember. You can contact Peter Zurniwein direct—peter.zurniwen@valaiscom.ch and you will have the best skiing Zermatt has to offer and eat at some of the best restaurants on any mountain in Europe.
I did not write much about our dinner because after such grand lunches we usually ate lighter in the evening. Couple of high lights we great burgers at a small place called Bubble. Burgers were $30.00 each but worth every penny. Hand cut French fries like you try to make at home, soft sesame buns and all the toppings.
If you want a great steak or lamb chops go to Chez Max Julen famous for grilled meats served with choice of side sauces, love the peppercorn sauce. Chezmaxjulen@hotmail.com
Our last dinner after returning our skies packing our bags we treated ourselves to dinner at CERVO at the mountain boutique hotel, http://www.cervo.ch, if you don’t go for dinner at least try and stop at the bar on your way home off the mountain, it is at the bottom of the run before you step into the elevator for the ride down to the down below.
Zermatt is a beautiful village with no car, great skiing terrain and top notch restaurants. Expensive but worth the price.

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