- Travel Healthy
- TEN OF…
- Contact Us
By John and Sandra Nowlan
Chain restaurants may be a threatened species in North Carolina. Many chefs in the Tar Heel state are drawing record crowds of diners by embracing the ‘farm to table’ or ‘slow food’ philosophy and serving their guests only fresh, local ingredients with a southern twist.
On a recent trip to the scenic and very hospitable western end of North Carolina we purposely avoided the chains and stuck with Carolina cuisine that reflected southern roots and imaginative flair.
Our introduction to this culinary creativity came in Charlotte, the state’s largest city, with its new emphasis on fresh and local. Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen on North College Street is a good example. Chef Joe Kindred told us he creates a “new, southern cuisine” by mixing Italian, French and Southern US influences and getting all his ingredients from local farms. Even the furniture is made locally. Meats and many of Chef Kindred’s vegetables are roasted over hickory wood imparting a succulent flavour. We especially enjoyed tender and juicy barbequed chicken. The only exception to Roosters’s local rule is the fresh mussels and we were delighted to learn that they’re flown in from Prince Edward Island!
Even more down-home southern cooking comes from Mert’s Heart and Soul, a lively African-American restaurant that specializes in mac and cheese, hot buttery sweet cornbread, shrimp and grits and huge glasses of sweet iced tea. After lots of jerk-seasoned BBQ pulled pork, black-eyed peas and collard greens we left very full and very aware that we were in the south.
Our final Charlotte stop was at the Harvest Moon Grill, located within the historic Dunhill Hotel, one of the few older downtown buildings to escape the wrecker’s ball. Chef Patty Green insists that all her supplies are organic with no hormones, pesticides or antibiotics. She buys free-range pork and grass-fed beef from local farmers to produce dishes that “appeal to all the senses”. She says she wants her food “to fill your mouth with flavour”. After sampling her trout three ways, fried okra, carrot salad with garlic, chicken confit and pork chops with smoked sweet potato puree we agree she has succeeded admirably. Her salted caramel pot de crème dessert was divine.
Heading west on the way to Asheville we stopped in Hickory, a city of 40,000 best know for its furniture manufacturing and huge furniture retail outlets. But its cuisine follows that ‘slow food’ philosophy with several talent chefs providing tasty local fare.
Chef Josh Phillips attended the Culinary Institute of America and his restaurant, Josh’s on Union Square, combines casual comfort food and fine dining. His lunchtime sandwiches, on sourdough or multigrain, are particularly good. Youssef 242 is considered the best restaurant in Hickory and we met Chef Youssef Amrani who told us about his Moroccan roots and commitment to local products. The Mediterranean influence was obvious in delicious dishes like deep fried green and purple okra with pimento cheese and lamb tenderloin with couscous. His desserts, however, were mixed. The pineapple upside down cake was spectacular but the bread pudding was somewhat dry.
When we hit Asheville after a picturesque drive from Hickory along the Blue Mountain Parkway, we headed for the 12 Bones Smokehouse, reputed to be President Obama’s favourite BBQ joint. Known for long lines and generous portions of pungent, aromatic cuts of smoked beef, chicken, turkey and pork,
we felt positively presidential as we enjoyed brisket, ribs and pulled pork along with made-from-scratch corn pudding, mashed sweet potato, collard greens and jalepeno cheese grits.
Dinner in downtown Asheville was a special treat at Posana, a totally gluten-free and organic restaurant that’s also the first in North Carolina to be certified as Green. The low carbon footprint did not affect Chef Peter Pollay’s cuisine however as we began our meal with an imaginative brussels sprout salad (with apples, sunflower seeds, stilton blue cheese and honey-buttermilk dressing) and a tasty kale salad (with toasted pumpkin seeds, currants, manchego style cheese, lemon and olive oil). Both were unusual and, apparently a big hit with kids as well. Our main courses were equally innovative and included giant scallops and local barrelfish (a type of bass). We didn’t need it but a dessert sampler included Opera Torte, caramel cheesecake and North Carolina Apple Cherry Pandowdy.
One of Asheville’s most popular restaurants, and deservedly so, is the Tupelo Honey Café where everything s made from scratch. With generous servings big enough to share, this North Carolina institution serves its food southern style with flair. The unique Appalachian Egg Rolls use pulled pork in BBQ sauce rolled with braised greens, pickled onions and shredded carrots while amazing main dishes include tangy shrimp and goat cheese grits and root beer molasses glazed pork tenderloin accompanied by hot biscuits and honey.
We didn’t expect North Carolina’s most popular tourist attraction to include an outstanding restaurant. But the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, featuring the largest private home in the United States (built by George Vanderbilt, it includes some 250 rooms), includes several great places to eat. We tried the popular Stable Café that used to house horses 100 years ago but now feeds thousands of tourists authentic southern cuisine at reasonable prices. Chef Brian Hough makes everything in-house including fried local cheese curds, bangers and hash (with hand-made grilled sausage) and a Stable sampler of spice-rubbed baby back ribs, pulled pork and rotisserie chicken with white beans, collard greens, cole slaw and
We marveled at the extraordinary landscapes, unique attractions and friendly folks of Western North Carolina but we especially enjoyed the southern hospitality of the many restaurants that promote the fresh and local concept. It’s a philosophy that makes this state extremely attractive to any visitors who want the best of southern food while avoiding the bland sameness of chain restaurants.
John and Sandra Nowlan are travel and food writers based in Halifax
By John and Sandra Nowlan
The rum punch at check-in was the best we’ve ever tasted. But perhaps that smooth and spicy Barbados welcome was appropriate at the resort that claims to be the oldest in the Caribbean.
The Crane Resort, situated on top of a rugged 30-40 metre cliff overlooking the open Atlantic Ocean, traces its origins to 1887. The prime attraction then, and now, is the magnificent, wide soft sand beach that spreads out below the resort and slopes gently into the warm, azure blue waters of the South Atlantic that stay a constant 24-27 degrees. There’s nothing to the east but ocean…and Africa. The eye-popping beach has been listed as one of the top 10 in the world by both Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and by the BBC.
Open ocean waves on this east side of Barbados can be dramatic and forceful, unlike the quiet and laid-back lifestyle of the resort itself. The marketing director, Joanna Robinson, told us that this gentle pace of life is not for everyone. “If you want a variety of water sports, a busy night life and lots of constant activity,” she said, “this isn’t the place for you.”
But apparently it’s that peacefulness and relative remoteness that makes it the ideal place for thousands of guests each year, mainly from Canada, the US and Britain, who book one of the 200 generously sized suites for a short holiday or a longer time share. Ranging in size between 800 and 4,000 square feet, all the rooms have full housekeeping facilities, elaborate mahogany furniture including four-poster beds and multi-media entertainment choices that include CBC Television. Several have private plunge pools at their front door and most of the newer buildings (the resort is constantly growing) have a two-story penthouse unit with a personal, oversize rooftop Jacuzzi. The well-maintained property also has a series of cascading swimming pools.
In spite of its age and historic features (the oldest part is well-preserved), The Crane seems determined to remain a top Caribbean resort by adding innovative features like free WiFi throughout the property and a new area called The Village with shops, cafés and even plans for a theatre.
It’s in The Village that an innovative Italian restaurant, D’Onofrios, sets a new standard for cuisine in this part of the world. The resort hired a top French chef from New York, Jean-Jacques Carquillat, to oversee and improve its culinary operation. His first focus was on D’Onofrios and, in our view, he succeeded admirably. He may be French but his pizza was the best we’ve ever enjoyed outside Naples and his antipasti was both imaginative and flavourful. Our two main courses, fresh snapper and Chicken Filini, were both infused with just enough herbs and spices to make our taste buds sing. Delizioso!
Chef Carquillat told us he’s now working on menus for The Crane’s International/Caribbean restaurant, L’Azure, which is perched on the edge of the coral cliff with spectacular views of the beach and open Atlantic. The resort also boasts an excellent Japanese/Thai restaurant called Zen and The Carriage House, the former stable 100 years ago at the Crane Beach Hotel, which has a bar and grill featuring an Island specialty, Flying Fish sandwiches.
Andrée Steel and Don Adams of Ottawa first visited Barbados five years ago continuing their policy of never vacationing in the same place twice. They told us that policy changed when they visited The Crane and fell in love with the property, the rooms, the amenities and the view. “Here on the east coast of Barbados we feel very safe and very comfortable in a warm, friendly environment,” they said. “We come here to relax, not to rough it. On the way from the airport we stop for groceries and some great bottles of wine at prices that are comparable to Ontario.”
For them, and for us, that relaxation starts with a generous glass of the Caribbean’s best rum punch.
John and Sandra Nowlan are travel and food writers based in Halifax
By John and Sandra Nowlan
The low price was startling. A sign outside the smart looking motel on South Padre Island, Texas, advertised rooms for just $34.99. Other nearby motels were almost as cheap – $36.99. We haven’t seen US prices like that for decades.
But this is a key reason why Canadian visitors told us that the Gulf coast of south Texas is “the best kept secret for sun-seekers.”
This area gives Florida a serious challenge. Summer, when Canadians usually stay near home, is high season in south Texas (big city folks from Dallas, San Antonio and Houston flock to the seashore to beat the heat). So the rest of year – except for a week or two in early March when the spring break college crowd gathers – is off-season with a sub-tropical climate and amazing prices for food, accommodation and attractions. Plus the beaches on the outer islands of the Texas coast are extraordinary.
Our first stop was Corpus Christi, a thriving port city of 300,000, protected by a long, sandy barrier island. Like many cities, the downtown has suffered decay but is being revitalized with more hotels and good restaurants.
Before hitting the beach on nearby North Padre Island it’s worth a day or two exploring some unique attractions in the city. Foremost, in our view, is a giant piece of World War Two history. The USS Lexington, the oldest remaining aircraft carrier in the world, is now tied up in Corpus Christi Bay as a National Historic Landmark. The huge ship, three football fields long, was known as the Blue Ghost for its apparent invincibility in the Pacific war against the Japanese. It was built in 1942 and served in active duty until 1991 when it was decommissioned and donated to the city of Corpus Christi. Guests can now visit the massive indoor hanger, see dozens of vintage and modern planes spread out on the long deck and climb narrow staircases as the sailors did, to living quarters and the operational areas. There’s even a flight simulator and IMAX type theatre.
Nearby the Lexington are the Texas State Aquarium (remarkable for a small city, with many hands-on exhibits), the gleaming white Art Museum of South Texas and the Museum of Science and History which specializes in marine archaeology. That museum includes the remains of both the oldest recovered French and oldest recovered Spanish ships in the western hemisphere and well as full-size replicas of the Christopher Columbus ships, Pinta and Santa Maria. The Nina replica is berthed at the Corpus Christi marina.
Most people come to south Texas for the beaches so we crossed a long causeway to reach Padre Island, the longest barrier island in the world. Parallel to the coast, the narrow strip of sand stretches almost 200 kilometres from Corpus Christi south to the border of Mexico. The smooth sand is firm enough to handle vehicles so many cars and trucks drive along the beach (15 mph limit) or park by the surf for fishing or a picnic. We drove along the beach and the quiet highway to the small resort community of Port Aransas that prides itself on having no big box stores and no McDonalds. Instead, the town of 3,500 offers relaxation, good seafood restaurants and excellent fishing and birding.
One cannot drive the length of Padre Island (much of it is designated as “National Seashore”) so visitors travel inland on Route 77 to reach the southernmost part of Texas, its “tropical tip”, and the pleasures of South Padre Island.
Boasting the best beaches in Texas, along with world-class birding, fishing and dolphin watching, the community of South Padre Island has fewer than 3,000 residents much of the year but happily handles 60,000 to 100,000 visitors on hot summer weekends. The attractions are many. We visited a sea turtle conservation building on Padre Boulevard where guests learn about the five species of sea turtles found in the Gulf of Mexico and where injured turtles are kept until well enough to return to the wild. Close by is the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Centre with a five story observation tower overlooking the bay and boardwalks that extend over four acres of wetlands frequented by a large variety of wildlife, including hundreds of species of migratory and local birds. In the afternoon we boarded a boat for dolphin viewing. Seven pods of the mammals, numbering about 250 individual dolphins, frequent the bay and immediate Gulf area. They love to get up close to tour boats and show off.
Food on South Padre Island is inexpensive and delicious. You can bring your own fresh-caught fish to many of the seafood restaurants and they’ll gladly cook and serve it to you, along with salad and dessert, for about 15 to 20 dollars. For breakfast we tried Yummies Bistro (rated a well-deserved number 1 on Trip Advisor) and found a new favourite dish – fresh grapefruit pie. Unique and amazing! Evenings are so pleasant in south Texas, everyone will enjoy the sunset dinner cruise on the Southern Wave Catamaran. The boat glides up the bay side of the island, past beautiful homes, while a talented singer rolls out clever ballads and the chef serves a feast of fresh grilled shrimp and Mexican fajitas.
Our vacation sunset came all too quickly as we headed to the mainland city of Harlingen (along with Brownsville, it has the closest airport to South Padre Island) for a quick visit and a flight home. This city of 75,000, with a small home-town feel, boasts the original Iwo Jima Memorial (based on the famous photograph, it’s 10 metres tall with an 18 metre flagpole) that has a better known brass copy in Washington, DC. The downtown is enlivened with large, colourful murals, including one honouring Bill Haley (of “Rock Around the Clock” fame) who died in Harlingen after spending much of his life here. An old-fashioned soda shop downtown has a showcase filled with Bill Haley and the Comets memorabilia. Near the city are flourishing citrus groves and aloe plantations.
In Harlingen we met John and Lucy Morey of Port Dover, Ontario. Retired for a decade, they’re now known as “Winter Texans” (the term, “Snowbirds”, seems to be reserved for Florida) and spend several months of each year in this part of the Lone Star state. “We tried Florida,” John Morey told us, “ but here in Texas people are just much more friendly and the cost of living is much less.” He and his wife noted that they could play a round of golf for $12 and buy wine or beer in a store or restaurant for less than half the price they pay in Canada. They also love it that Mexico is close by. “I can drive 30 minutes to Progreso, Mexico, and get a thorough cleaning from a good dentist for $20.”
Lucy Morey noted that more and more Canadians seem to be discovering south Texas. “Actually, we’re taking over,” she laughed. “We have friends here from all ten provinces.” John Morey agrees. “We come here because it’s warm and I think it extends my life. I don’t have to deal with cold weather.”
John and Sandra Nowlan are travel and food writers based in Halifax
Beach, beaches, birding, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, dolphin watching, dolphins, fishing, Gulf coast of south Texas, Gulf of Mexico, Harlingen, North America, North Padre Island, Padre Island, Port Aransas, Route 77, South Padre Island, South Texas, Texas, Texas State Aquarium, United States, USA, USS Lexington
by John and Sandra Nowlan
Toronto chef and Food Network star Mark McEwan uses a lot of Prince Edward Island ingredients in his restaurants. He often flies to Charlottetown and says the pastoral landscape is just like a fine painting. “I have a love affair with PEI”, he told us. “It’s perfect for a chef because the province is dedicated to agriculture, surrounded by ocean and has a unique microclimate. You have some fantastic chefs here and a culture that supports them”
Those attributes have combined to make Canada’s smallest province a significant player on the North America culinary scene. A tourist season that used to finish at the end of August now stretches well past late summer with the month-long Fall Flavours Festival involving communities across the Island as well as the International Shellfish Festival that has been attracting sold-out crowds and world-class chefs for 17 years.
Michael Smith, Canada’s best known celebrity chef and host of several shows on the Food Network, has lived and worked on Prince Edward Island for last 20 years. He and Chef McEwen were the hosts of the 2012 Shellfish Festival and prepared the opening dinner for 500 guests in a huge tent at the new Charlottetown Event Grounds.
After sampling fresh oysters from a dozen Island suppliers spread around the perimeter of the tent (each region has its own distinctive salinity and taste) guests were treated to Chef Smith and Chef McEwan at their creative best. For the first course, Michael Smith prepared Sweet Potato Mussel Chowder with smoked salmon, chive essence and a sculpted potato anchor while Mark McEwen brought out a unique butter braised lobster poutine with crisp frites and classic béarnaise sauce. With students of the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, they created the main course, tender Island beef striploin medallions with a lobster tail and local vegetables. It was fantastic!
Over the next few days, guests at the festival (75% were from out-of-province) enjoyed cooking demonstrations (“Anybody can cook mussels,” Chef Smith claimed), an oyster shucking contest and the PEI Seafood Chowder Championship (with lots of samples, of course).
The Fall Flavours event, which overlapped the Shellfish Festival, attracted even more top culinary talent including celebrity chefs Susur Lee, Anna Olsen and Corbin Tomaszeski. They hosted events like Beef n’ Blues in Summerside, a Lobster Party on the Beach and Chef on Board (Chef Tomaszeski prepared a gourmet feast on one of the Northumberland Strait ferries). We chose “Dining on the River Clyde,” a leisurly six-course meal at the Olde Glasgow Mill restaurant in New Glasgow, PEI, overlooking pastoral farmland and the tranquil river where eagles, heron and other birds soared and entertained at dusk. The highlights were probably the roasted butternut squash and pear soup with a poached prawn and the oyster trio, prepared three ways, each with a distinctive and delicious savoury topping.
With events like Fall Flavours and a culture of fine cuisine throughout the year, it’s little wonder that talented chefs are coming to PEI and staying throughout the year. Chef Michael Smith said that producing good food is woven into Island culture. “It’s a tight knit community,” he said. “All of us who live here are close to the land. Everyone knows somebody who prepares food. That makes this province very special.”
Chef Mark McEwan says the Island is very special for visitors like him as well. “When I come to PEI, I feel like I’m going back a little bit in time.
It’s a great place to come to relax and help lower your blood pressure. It’s a remarkable province.”
John and Sandra Nowlan are travel and food writers based in Halifax
“Meze-Memories” Mandarin Boutique Hotel
Here are two recipes taken from Mandarin Boutique Hotel, Faralya, Turkey’s extensive range of mezes. Serve as part of a selection of mixed starters, or as side dishes to accompany a summer barbecue. Afiyet olsun! (Bon appetit!)
Semizotlu Bulgur Koftesi - Vegetarian “meatballs” with purslane
1.5 cups of bulgur wheat
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cloves fresh garlic
Vegetable oil for frying
1 bunch of purslane
1 pot of plain yoghurt
2 tbsp mayonnaise
In a bowl, cover the bulgur wheat with boiling water and leave to soak for 30 minutes before draining off any excess liquid. Add the beaten egg, tomato puree, cumin, 2 cloves of garlic (crushed), flour, salt and pepper and mix well. If necessary, adjust the consistency by carefully adding a little hot water if too firm, or flour if too runny.
Roll the mixture into bite-size balls and fry them in hot oil, turning frequently.
Finely chop the purslane and mix with the yoghurt, mayonnaise and the remaining two crushed cloves of garlic. Serve as a dip for your bulgur wheat balls.
Havuclu Patates Kavurmasi – Fried potatoes with carrots
5 medium potatoes
2 medium carrots
1/2 bunch dill
3 tbsp olive oil
Cornichons to garnish
Peel the potatoes and boil until just cooked.
Grate the carrots.
Crush the potatoes whilst adding the salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
Heat the oil in a pan and saute the crushed potatoes.
Take the potatoes off the heat and stir in the grated carrot and finely chopped dill.
Put the mixture in a cake tin and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Place the chilled potato cake onto a serving dish and garnish with finely sliced cornichons
By Luis Lechuga
You may have asked yourself this question, or been asked by friends or relatives…. Can wine tours be enjoyed with children?
Everyone may have his or her own answer about this question, but in my case 2 things make this question especially important. As a matter of fact, I myself have 2 children, aged 3 and 5, who are adorable… but also noisy (you would not expect otherwise being Spanish children) and who love to run and jump, and play fight.
The second thing which makes my case a bit special is that I organize wine tours… My friends have indeed asked me. “Have you ever visited wineries and done one of the tours you propose with Mateo and Miguel? “ (my sons) Well, eh, the answer is no. Better said, the answer was no… I decided I had to try.
On the one hand I feel it is very important for me to transmit to my children passion about the job I do, and I think this can help them chose in the future a job they will like. In my case, it involves visiting the places I recommend and strolling along endless rows of vines amongst many other fascinating activities. On the other hand, there is also the challenge to make out of a wine tour a trip enjoyable for children. Is that feasible?
Spain is a land very rich in history. This results in a myriad of castles and monuments spread all over the country. I also know many wineries near those castles, and wineries which were literally carved in rock, and which welcome the visitor with tunnels hundreds of meters long in a very intriguing manner. With these 2 ideas in mind my wife and I decided we could get the boys ready for the trip a bit in advance… We will tell them stories of knights and warriors, princesses and kings… and also the story of secret places that stored and kept safe treasures or food (what could be more of a treasure than food in days of famines?…) All these things were to be visited during our next trip, and the bed-time stories revolved around castles and secret places…
We had 4 days and we decided to do both Rioja and Ribera del Duero. From Madrid this is a good option. Ribera is one hour and a half drive North of Madrid. The River Douro was for centuries a natural border and the region is full of castles which protected it. We left Madrid a bit later than peak time to avoid any traffic jams and arrived at Aranda de Duero at 11:00 AM. In Aranda we spent some time walking near the Douro river and visiting the town center, which hosts a beautiful Main Square and 2 amazing churches. The children prefer early lunches (by Spanish standards) so we had planned a short visit to Bodegas Portia (Norman Foster was the architect involved in this project) and had lunch at their restaurant, which turned out very convenient. A drive to Peñafiel (http://www.turismocastillayleon.com/cm/setLocale?pgseed=1343401464939&dvRegLocale=en_UK) followed and during the drive a small siesta for the children. Great! Peñafiel literally means the “Loyal Rock”… and if you are there and stand in front of the mountain and its impressive castle you fully grasp why it is named so. Going up to the castle was a great experience for the children. The city hall has installed a replica of the castle in one of the local parks, and our boys spent a good hour climbing and playing knights and dragons… The views from the castle are simply amazing and you can easily, and so did the children, imagine yourself in ancient times, spotting for any troops in the horizon.
We decided not to visit any other winery that same day, but to take a walk in the streets of Peñafiel instead and relax at our hotel. The following morning we visited Protos. This is a classic if you are in Ribera and a winery of a kind… it is built underneath the mountain and has kilometers of tunnels that contrast with Richard Rogers new winery next to the old one. Impressive.
After this visit we drove straight to Rioja (http://www.lariojaturismo.com) . Motorways in Spain are good and from Peñafiel this is a two-and-a-half hour drive to our selected destination in Labastida (http://tourism.euskadi.net/x65-12375/en/contenidos/d_destinos_turisticos/0000006316_d2_rec_turismo/en_6316/6316-ficha2.html)
We opted for a Casa Rural this time. This type of accommodation in Spain is very convenient if travelling with children. Old, typical houses have been restored with charm and equipped with modern facilities in order to guarantee a pleasant and comfortable stay. We selected a House with a 2 bedroom apartment. The house dates back to the XVIth century and it has a maze-type garden… perfect for the kids to play. Labastida is one of those villages in Rioja where a hill hosts a church. Down the hill narrow cobbled streets make you think of the days these streets were full of horses. Labastida is a great location to visit La Rioja. It is a 15 minute drive from Haro (where many wineries are concentrated around the train Station, from which the trains transported wine to the harbours in the north), 20 minute drive from Laguardia -an amazing walled city- and 45 minutes drive from San Millan (in Santiago / St James way) or Logroño.
We visited 4 wineries altogether the following 2 days, in 2 of them we opted for wineries where nice walks in the vineyards are possible… and also visited the wine Museum of Dinastia Vivanco. We could not obviously stay there all the time the place deserves but the children were fascinated by some of the items exhibited. They also loved the “grape train” in Laguardia… boys do always love trains, a kind of adventure for them!
People are very welcoming in this part of Spain, and you can feel that children are always welcome in restaurants… Here are a few tips though if you are travelling with children in this part of Spain (or maybe in any part of the world!): bring along some drawing material and a couple of toys. We had printed before departure from Madrid some colourings (grapes, oak barrels, castles and knights) to keep them entertained… plus also a mighty surprise: 2 warriors and their horses… a prize for good behavior after Day 1. It is amazing to see what sort of imaginative stories the children come up with… and the toys helped us a bit to be able to combine winery visits. My wife and I both drive. We therefore took turns with the driving, although it didn´t prevent the driver from tasting the wine anyway (remember you can, as professionals do, spit the wine in the recipient provided). However I must admit that there is no way I was going to spit out such delicious wines when it wasn´t my turn to drive!!!
A great family trip! Would I include a Tour to enjoy with children in our offer at www.winetourismspain.com? I still need to think about it…
Just a few miles beyond the world-famous lagoon of Oludeniz and its popular tourist beaches lies a section of Turkey’s Lycian Coast that remains gloriously unspoilt, and it is here, amidst the wooded hillsides of Faralya, that one of the country’s most exclusive retreats can be found – the delightful Mandarin Boutique Hotel. Comprising just eight luxuriously appointed and supremely spacious guestrooms, most with super-kingsize four-poster beds and double Jacuzzis, Mandarin will suit discerning travellers who value an intimate ambience and a personal welcome, and its wonderfully peaceful setting – combined with the favourable climate in this part of Turkey – makes this a haven of complete relaxation.
And yet Mandarin is just as well suited to more active holidaymakers: those who wish to explore the legacy of Turkey’s rich history will find numerous well-preserved archaeological site within easy striking distance, whilst those who enjoy more physical pursuits can take their pick from a range of activities in the surrounding area, from scuba-diving in the Gulf of Fethiye to paragliding from the summit of majestic Mount Babadag. Keen walkers will find some wonderful trails starting right on their doorstep, whilst for those keen to explore further afield we can assist with booking transportation and guides to suit their individual interests.
Patates Cig Köfte – Raw Potato Kofte
6 medium potatoes, peeled and boiled
2 cups of bulgur wheat
2 cups boiling water
1 tbsp butter
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch spring onions
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 cup lemon juice
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
Salt to taste
In a large pan, soak the bulgur wheat in the boiling water until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Chop the parsley and spring onion, setting some aside for decoration. Crush the garlic.
Mix all the ingredients together and blend to a puree.
Take tablespoon-size amounts of the mixture, squeeze in your hands to remove any excess moisture and shape into kofte. Place on a tray or serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining herbs. Serve cold.
Baked Leeks with Minced Meat
1 Kg leeks
300 g minced beef or lamb
25 g butter or margarine
1/2 cup of milk
2 cups grated cheese
1 dessert spoon red pepper sauce
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Finely chop the onions and leeks.
Heat the butter/margarine in a frying pan and gently fry the onions until golden. Add the minced meat and fry until browned, then add the red pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Finally add the chopped leaks, reduce the heat and continue frying until the leaks are softened.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and some salt to taste.
Place the leak/meat mixture in an oiled baking tray, evenly pour over the egg mixture and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake in the oven at 200C or until the mixture has set and the cheese has browned.
Halekulani (www.halekulani.com), Waikiki’s legendary beachfront hotel, has created 3 specialty summer cocktails - Cachaca Samba, Mango Mint Freeze andCharlie Chan.
Along with Halekulani’s signature Mai Tai, which was invented and still served at the hotel, these summertime concoctions are available at the award-winningOrchids restaurant, by the pool and of course, while enjoying traditional Hawaiian entertainment at Halekulani’s famed outdoor gathering spot House Without a Key, which is immortalized in a 1925 Charlie Chan novel.
Below please find the recipes for these refreshing summer cocktail creations.
1 ½ ounce Cachaca
½ ounce Cedilla Acai Berry Liqueur
3 lime wedges cut in halves
½ ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce rock candy syrup
Method: Place the lime wedges in a mixing glass and muddle briskly with juice and rock candy syrup, then add cachaca and 1 scoop of ice and shake well.
Pour into a double old –fashioned glass (do not strain), add more ice if needed and serve with a float of Cedilla.
1 ½ ounce Malibu Rum
2 ounce Mango Puree
1 ½ ounce Sweet n Sour
4 Mint leaves
Method: Add all ingredients to blender with ice and blend thoroughly. Pour into rocks glass
Garnish: Dehydrated mango slice and mint sprig
1 ½ oz Barsol Pisco (Primero)
½ oz Orchid Guava Liqueur
½ oz Strawberry Puree
½ oz Lime Juice
Method: shake all ingredients with ice. Serve straight up into a chilled martini glass.
Garnish: half strawberry on the rim and kafir lime leaf.
by Barbara Kingstone
In the famous open, some areas covered, is Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda food market. There are stalls of every produce up and down the various maze-like lanes. Samples are happily given out and most of the veggies and fruit are from near-by farms.
Every city seems to have a meeting point and here it is “ the Aroma”, a coffee chain that managed to outdo Starbucks since business for them was so bad that they left the country and the locals are loyal to their own “java”.
Right on time, we meet Chef Tali Friedman. Young and entrepreneurial, this 36 year old mother has started a cooking school. But before we donned our aprons, she took us to taste food…. halva from the famed Halva Kingdom, David the fish monger, a nameless butcher, a spice shop, fruit merchant and as the grand finale,Basher, The King of Cheese with 800 varieties from around the world and known universally for the vast variety and quality.
Within the ‘shuk’, is Tali’s studio where a narrow stair case takes you to a very up- to- the- minute, state- of -the -art kitchen. The 14 of us were given our duties to chop, slice, roll, sauté, boil and whatever else was needed for all this locally grown produce. Overseeing all this were three very capable helpers.
While all was cooking , we ascended to the enclosed rooftop where bottles of Israeli red and white from the Golan Heights Winery, waiting to be tasted and we did our duty to the very last drop.
Dinner included the freshest salad where even the tomatoes were so sweet and the lettuce so crisp, brought daily to the marketplace.
This was served with a delicate fruity tasting dressing followed by green garlic soup, fish balls on couscous, perfectly done beef albeit a bit too salty for the American taste and ended with diced caramelized apples wrapped in a paper -thin dough but not filo which, Tali said, just tears too easily. Spending time cooking doesn’t seems like something most travelers want to do with their time.
But this course is an insight into the people, the food, the miracle of the Israeli’s effort to bring forth all the food from this arid country.
I guarantee, these few hours will be the most talked about part of your trip.
Wild Garlic Soup
15 stems of young garlic (remove 5cm of the green leaves coming from the top end of the stem)
2 parsley roots
2 celery roots
½ kg potatoes
1 liter vegetable stock
3 spoons olive oil (or 50gr butter)
- Slice the garlic stems to centimeter-thick “rings”.
- In a heavy cooking pot, fry the garlic and leek in olive oil.
- Peel the potatoes and roots, and chop them to similarly-sized dices.
- Add those to the mix and continue frying lightly to transparency. The roots don’t need to become “golden”, as it is preferred to maintain their lovely white color.
- Add the vegetable stock along with half a liter of boiled water. Make sure to cover the ingredients with water, and then some – about a third more. (If you don’t have vegetable stock, it can be substituted with water.)
- Keep cooking for 45 minutes, and then use a hand blender to puree (no need to sift!).
- Taste and season with Atlantic sea salt and some white pepper.
- Taste again and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
- TIP: To make the soup creamier, add 150ml cream.
by Barbara Kingstone
As the small bus slowly ascended the curvy narrow road to Beit Jan, one of the all- Druze villages that dot Israel, the unusual downpour of rain and darkening skies made it impossible to see the landscape. Suddenly the bus stopped. It couldn’t make the narrow curve so that it was left to the driver to figure out how to get to our preplanned private dinner. But cell phones do come in handy in situations like this and soon there were two cars and several umbrellas to take us to the home of Salmom Dabbour, a Druze Arab and his family who live in this part of Israel and are citizens of the country.
This evening was a much looked forward to event.
With a population of only 9,000 and located 1000 meters above sea level, making this the highest point in Israel, Salmom told us about the history of the Druze. Their religion has been separated from Islam since 1017 and they believe in one God and reincarnation.
Originally the Druze of Beit Jan concentrated on agriculture but now there’s a high respect for education with many young people obtaining university degrees.
It was unfortunate that we couldn’t see the renowned pastoral view but then the unique experience was more than enough to make up for that. The anticipation of meeting a Druze family in a Druze home in an all Druze village, 800 years old. However, most of the buildings and the Dabbour’s home, are modern, built in the 20th century.
Like family we were greeted into the Nabbour’s private villa. Our wet outer jackets taken, we were lead into a spotless, large room opening onto another area where the dishes for many of the courses were kept, the kitchen hidden behind. The long narrow room where the table had been set had a sparkling white cloth with white napkins and decorated with lacy white curtains. Happily greeting us was Salmom. Cheerily he said “I’m just the server here. Amal is the boss”.
Slamom’s wife, Amal, is a splendid traditional Druze cook who learned her skill from her mother. As part of the Druze tradition is to be hospitable to foreigners so she was pleased when asked to cook her homemade dinners for visitors. She couldn’t believe that she should and could be paid since hospitality, generosity, kindness and spirituality are so much a part of the Druze practice. However, pressured to do this time and again, much to the Dabbours’s surprise, this insight into Druze lifestyle, their authentic cooking became so popular that they started this ‘business’ about 4 years ago and haven’t had a slump.
Our group of 20 was fortunate to get the entire dining room but the house can accommodate up to 50 using the other rooms.The Dabbours decided to keep this evening a private affair giving us their undivided attention.
The meal was a triumph of cuisine and as the dishes were carried out by their daughter with the help of Salmom, we wondered when it would stop. I tried counting and managed up to 15 different dishes, some hot, some cool. One in particular was stuffed spring chicken and to this day, I regret not asking for the recipe.
We started with Amal’s wonderful lentil soup and then an assortment of starters like eggplant with tomatoes, pureed pumpkin, hummus (a must at most mid eastern meals), cauliflower with tahina, majadaara, a bulgar wheat which has been boiled with water and dried for four days and separated 8 times. This organic bulgar was the hit of the appetizers. Then came Maklooubia (chicken rice with herb sauce, fried onions and turned upside down like some grand cake..what a great presentation. Already groaning from too much, little did I realize that there was much more to come. Next was Kofta, a ground lamb with tahini. Lemon which grows abundantly in this region was in most dishes. So for 14 salads, soup, 3 kinds of leaf dishes and two meat dishes and of course dessert, the price is about $150 and worth every moment, every chew and every shekel.
We applauded the shy Amal whom we insisted come out from the hot kitchen.
The rain had let up and the cars were waiting to take us to the bus which somehow had reversed. A meal to remember in a memorable setting.
More info at: 2eat.co.il/havaya