Kasbah Tamadot – Morocco


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He said, “I know he seeks out exotic locations, but where is this place?” We were on our way to lunch at Richard Branson’s elegant Moroccan retreat, Kasbah Tamdot. Driving for about an hour from Marrakech, we had been twisting our way up into the mountains into seemingly nowhere.  Boujemah, our expert guide and driver from Sun Trails said, “It’s not much farther.”   The road became yet steeper and more narrow but, as we came around yet another bend, there it was.  “Not much to look at,” He said as we parked outside the gates.  “Just wait,” Me replied as we headed for the entrance.

Kasbah TamadotMagical Kasbah Tamadot can rightfully boast some of the most elegant delicious cuisine in Morocco.   “You know I don’t like olives,” He said. “but this dish is beyond description.  Here, taste!” Chicken Tagine: Saffron Perfumed Free Range Chicken, Green Olives and Preserved Lemon. So do you like olives now?” Me asked.  “Maybe not,” He replied, “but I love these olives. While He focused his entire attention on the plate in front of him, Boujemah and I enjoyed our meals and were still able to take in the magnificent views of Toubkai National Park and the  lavish gardens and setting of Kasbah Tamadot.

Kasbah Tamadot 2“Next time”, He said waving a happy fork in the air,  “when we come back to Morocco we will spend an entire month here, wandering through the mountains, or  laying by pool, and I will have this dish every day.”  “Of course!” Me smiled, thinking that to be highly unlikely, but yet a very worthy dream.

Marcony – Murray Hill NYC


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“You’re going to love their food,” Me said.  “Marcony?” He asked.  “Absolutely”  Me said. Having been there for the first time last night, it was impossible not to be impressed with the specials we ordered  and the freshness and flavors of everything brought to the table.  The big surprise?  The eggplant mousse starter.  Would not have ordered it without the encouragement of my dinner partner, a steadfast  regular and Marcony fan.  It was exceptional in every way.


So too, was the lobster risotto and Dover sole.  Marco Pipolo is the owner and visionary behind Marcony and his talents and passion are reflected in a lovely dining room, excellent service and elegant yet unpretentious cuisine.  The wine list is, yes, Italian and the choices ably support the menu.

“Really”, Me said, “you would have had a hard time choosing what to order.” “When are we going?” He pressed “I’m ready.”  “You always are,” Me replied.  (I’m thinking this weekend.)

Loving Luxury Link


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“Don’t you think everyone knows about Luxury Link already?” He asked.  “Well, I don’t know,” Me replied “but if they don’t they really should.”  Traveling is expensive. Staying at a great hotel is expensive. Staying at a great hotel at a greatly reduced rate makes traveling more possible and more enjoyable. What’s better than getting what you want and saving money?  “It isn’t saving money if you wouldn’t have spent it in the first place” He winked.  I’m not sure I agree.

Luxury Link has given us the opportunity to stay at amazing hotels in Madrid, Rome, London (three times), Cabo San Lucas, Scotland, Barcelona, Taormina, Provence and Mallorca. The value has been amazing and we’ve never had a disappointing experience. We’ve bought some hotel stays on “Auctions” at tremendous savings and others on “Buy Now” offers at discounted rates, but its always been easy to do.

We aren’t associated with Luxury Link in any way except as satisfied customers, but its good to share a good thing with good people.  Get packing!

Boqueira – Flatiron NYC


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The first sip of the Muga Reserva 2008 elevated our already high spirits anticipating another tapas-like-you’re-in-Barcelona meal. “Sooner or later,” He said “we’ll order something we don’t like.”  Perched on the high stool banquette watching a swirl of tantalizing plates dance around us, Me said, “I’m not so sure.”

ImageThe one thing we haven’t done at Boqueria’s Flatiron location is sit at the counter right inside the door, which would give us immediate access to their Tortilla Espanola kept at the bar.  There are as many versions of this tapas classic as the number of people who make it. Hot, cold, room temperature, egg-centric, potato-centric, onion-laden, filled with one or more ingredients not included in the “basic” recipe, sophisticated, rudimentary, but never inedible.  Boqueria’s version is room temperature and superb.

I’ve never met a croquettas I didn’t love,” Me purred, “these are incredible!”  The Croquettas Cremas at Boqueira are velvety, delicious and always seem to arrive at the table at the perfect moment. The Txipirones are a particular favorite of ours – always perfectly cooked, seasoned and undeniably fresh.

Looking too hard for something to criticize, He said, “This wine list is a problem. Too many great choices. I want everything.”  “Well, yes,” Me sighed, “Life is hard.”

Boqueira is an edible travel brochure for Barcelona. It will make you want to book a trip if you’ve never been and you should absolutely go to this energetic, beautiful city!  But as for eating “the real thing” – you will find it here at Boqueira.

Heist at Harrod’s



Harrod's Sunglasses“But do you think they’re very special?” Me asked “because in the world of sunglasses I think they are amazing!”  “I think you’re special,” He replied, “but do you really need another pair of sunglasses?” Hmm, he was just being silly. Does anyone need another spoon of caviar or more truffles? We were standing in Harrod’s with too many pairs of sunglasses put out on the counter for my perusal but I did fancy these.  We would be in London for the week. I could come back. Given the grey rainy day and the three pairs of sunglasses I had packed for this December trip, perhaps I was being silly.

The next morning, He in the shower and Me curling the hair and painting the face, a news item on the telly caught my attention. Apparently, the dramatic rise in tourist shoplifting was being met with stringent arrest policies, no exceptions made.  “Did you hear that?” Me asked.  “Tourists are stealing and being arrested!”  “Can’t hear you!”,  He replied.  He always says that when he’s in the shower.  “Terrible!” Me said, “who would do that?”  “Can’t hear you!” He replied.

Hair done, primping complete, I rooted through my handbag for I-don’t-know-what and found a beautiful sunglass case very clearly not mine. Inside, the “special” sunglasses from Harrod’s. “Oh my God!” Me cried.  “What’s up,” He said, all pink, damp and adorably toweled.  “I must have stolen them!” Me wailed, crying very real tears.  “I could have been arrested! And I’ve never stolen anything in my life!  How could that have happened?”  “When I went out for that walk yesterday I went back and bought them,” He said “As a surprise.”  It was a bright sunny morning in London and I was no longer wanted by the police.  “You’re very special,” Me said.

El Centro – Espanol Praga


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el centro“Your logic defies me, but we’ve been in Prague for less than two hours and our first meal is going to be in a Spanish restaurant?” He asked.  “And why not?” Me replied.

Notwithstanding the uneven cobblestones and traffic, we were essentially a hop-skip-and-a-jump from our hotel, jet lagged-hungry and some tapas and sangria seemed like just the thing.

With four more nights ahead of us to explore more traditional cuisine, the brightly colored entrance to El Centro beckoned and the smiling young gent at the door was all the assurance we needed that we were headed in a good direction.

As our time in Prague went on it became apparent just how many young men from around the world had fallen in love and married a beautiful Czech girl. As they planned to start families and these young men found themselves following their loves home to her native country to be surrounded by her family and friends. Ergo and happily, Prague has become a city of ever growing international cuisines.

El Centro is welcoming, earnest and a good choice for Espanol Praga.  With a location equally accessible between the old and new towns, stop by, sit down and enjoy!

List of Things to Do – 2014

FIREWORKSGo someplace you love. Go someplace you’ve never been. Lick your plate. Make a stranger smile. Keep your promises. Laugh before breakfast. Aim higher. Know when to say “no.”  Don’t disappoint yourself.  Laugh over lunch. Wear what you want to. Listen with your heart. Edit your circle.  Enjoy today.  Ask questions. Have patience. Put the light in someone’s eyes. Sleep well and often.  Be brave. Think happy thoughts. Laugh after dinner. Welcome change. Most importantly, make your own list!

With all good wishes to you and yours for a wonderful, memorable year!

Me and He

Too Few Thumbs for Mark Greenaway


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P1000760“Tell me again why we haven’t been here before,” He said, as the final course of a proposterously brilliant lunch was nearing our table. Having eaten at most, if not all, of the highly touted fine dining establishments on our many visits to Edinburgh, there was no reasonable explanation. One of the less expected joys of this fairly “secret” city is the number and quality of restaurants on offer. You can eat very, very well in Edinburgh and Restaurant Mark Greenaway has moved to the top of our list.

Having had two completely different tasting menus with wine pairings on separate occasions in a single week (true we have no shame), we are now avid Mark Greenaway fans! Smart, modern, inventive cuisine that is equally respectful to ingredients and diners. While we’ve spent far more for tasting menus with wine pairings, we found these to be more successfully conceived, consistently executed, and better supported by the wines irrespective of country or cuisine. In fact, in every case, the wines not only complemented, but perhaps elevated many of the courses. Head Sommelier, Timothy Elliott gracefully cloaks his expertise with gracious affability as he directs attention to choices designed to delight rather than impress. (They do both.)

It’s rare to read a menu and want to order every selection for all of the courses, which explains  (not excuses) how we ended up having two completely different tasting menus just a few days apart. The room is lovely, service professional and knowledgeable.  “There’s just one problem with this restaurant,” He said.  “Two thumbs up just aren’t enough.”  Me said “Well, with mine, that makes four.” But he was right.  A dozen seemed more like it.  We have become happy, hopeful fans and look forward to experiencing the direction Mr. Greenaway’s cuisine takes over time. Favorite dish? Too hard to choose! But please do.




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“Are you sure about this?” He asked. “Well maybe,” Me replied. Miles from Marrakech, we stood at the entrances to Imi N Ifri a natural wonder created by water and wind some 200 million years ago.  Having met Boujemah, our driver and guide from Sun Trails for the first time that morning, we left the comfort of our air conditioned vehicle on our first venture outside of Marrakech.  To the left, Boujeamah explained was an easy descent using sturdy cement stairs leading to the ground basin on one side of Imi N Ifri.  To the right was an alternative approach. A steep, winding, longer, far less certain path of dirt, rock, scrub, gravel, shale, he described as “more interesting”.  The better experience, but more difficult, not one that everyone might choose. “Which do you recommend,” Me asked.  Boujemah shrugged, smiled and nodded to the right.  As was the case with all of our adventures in Morocco, Boujemah was always right. He presented us to a local man, wiry, grandfatherly, with no English. “You aren’t coming with us? Me asked Boujemah.  Oh no.  “I will wait for you here. Your guide, he is very good”

IMI N IFRI (7)IMI N IFRI descent down

“I can do this,” Me said.  “Okay,” He replied. “Here’s the deal.” No stranger to my long list of physical limitations, weaknesses and history of injuries, “The minute you change your mind, we turn around and come back up.” The first five minutes on the narrow dirt path went reasonably well before things became more interesting. More challenging. Our guide was nimble and fleet of foot. Sandwiched between him and He, behind me, who was also moving easily undeterred by the narrow path, the incline or uneven footing, I did my best to appear nonchalant while I wondered if I might die here (always ready to embrace the dire and dramatic.) Then things became yet more challenging and my limitations apparent to both of them. Halfway down to the bottom I was not about to turn around.

IMI N IFRI climb thruIMI N IFRI  climb thru (6)

Our guide, now a local hero in my eyes, watched patiently as I sat in the dirt again and again to reach the next boulder down or as extended a hand so I could balance on one foot to lamely hop to the next round stone. They allowed me my dignity when I rejected any help from either of them and scooched along with crab like hands on my rear end, making a dust cloud to reach the next foothold. Every moment held a split screen focus of challenge and wonderment as we looked around us at the beauty and mystery of this extraordinary place.


It had taken us far longer than would have been expected to reach the left side of Imi N ifri.  Boujameh waved from the top of the cement steps happy to see us emerge from the cave into view. We waved back happy and tired. (He was happy.  I was happy and tired.)  In fact He had enjoyed himself immensely and looked ready to do it all over again.  See me perspiring, covered in dust, splashed with mud, Boujameh asked “It was okay?  You liked it?’  “Liked it?” Me said.  ‘it was wonderful.”  And yes, we would do it again. Another day.

IMI N IFRI left stairs (8)

Maison Kayser – Boulanger Extraordinaire


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“Quiche this good could never be cliché!” He purred.  “I should have bought more,” Me said sadly.  A splendid morning made buttery-yum-special with individual quiches purchased at Maison Kayser in Midtown Manhattan. Warmed in our own oven with a smug nod to last year’s resolution to use at least one kitchen appliance per calendar year, freshly brewed coffee, flaky pastry, and an irresistible aroma were the perfect start to this Christmas Day.

Maison Kayser is quite literally a slice, if you will, of Paris bordering Bryant Park.  What to choose – that is the question.  Their vast array of croissant,  baguettes, pain au chocolat, pastries, tarts, eclairs, as well as full size and individual cakes are masterfully prepared and presented daily.

With tables and chairs at the back and quick,  charming counter service at the front, MK has become the favorite of Bryant Park area residents, commuters and tourists alike.  Certainly a favorite of ours! Bon appetit!

Maison Kayser    8 West 40th Street   New York City    212-364-2300