Monthly Archives: January 2012
Hotel Omm in Barcelona houses restaurant Moo, awarded a Michelin Star in 2006 and considered one of the city’s best eateries. Located at the back of the hotel lobby overlooking a humongous rock (N.B. don’t come here for the view), it is a bastion of exquisite gastronomy with a Catalonian twist and top wines presented by first-class sommeliers. As is customary, you get a choice of house appetizers before you move to your selection. As starters we tried the foie gras and the crayfish and for main course we decided to go for the sole and sea bass. The menu suggested the wine that should accompany each course, so we went with that (who is brave enough to question these sommeliers?) and had a most tasteful experience. Benito Santos Viñedo de Xoan (2008) for the sea bass and Carles Andreu Parellada (also from 2008) for the sole were perfect combinations. If you order desert, the cheese selection is a delight. In the end, after spending relatively handsomely (but not as bad as in the other Michelin Star restaurants in Barcelona), we left happy, slightly intoxicated and full to the brim. We promise we didn’t gulp it all down like cows. Moooo…
Those who have been looking for Rick’s Café from the movie “Casablanca,” look no more! To the delight of many tourists who have been annoying local taxi drivers for years asking to be taken to Rick’s Café, the gin joint opened in 2004. Ok, Humphrey Bogart is not meeting you at the door and dicey types are no longer lurking in the shadows – the usual suspects have been replaced with local businessmen and movie enthusiasts. The food is typical Mediterranean with some American and Moroccan overtones. Try the fish dishes (we can recommend all of them) and wash it down with some nice Bordeaux or, why not a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Top it off with Rick’s Cheesecake. There is a piano player who enlivens the evening with some jazz, and if you feel really nerdy you can ask him to play it again, Sam.
On our last trip to Marrakech we came across this lovely Moroccan spice, Ras-el-hanout, which literally means “top of the shop” i.e. the best spice the shop has to offer. It is prepared differently everywhere you go but the one we bought in the Medina consisted of a 35 spice powder that is used in various chicken or lamb Tangines. Today we decided to be a bit adventurous and try it with something else. The aromatic flavor of cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, cloves and cardamom works perfectly with tomatoes so we came up with this homemade tomato sauce recipe:
3 tomatoes (chopped into small pieces)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 dl water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 cloves of garlic (grated)
2 tsp Ras-el-hanout
Pinch of sugar
1 tbsp oregano
Salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste
Heat all ingredients in a small saucepan and let simmer until you get the perfect consistency. The tomato sauce works very well together with pasta put we have also tried it on pizza topped with onions, peppers and feta cheese.
Amazing clouds throwing playful shadows over the dunes today. Laayoune skyline album.
Sunset behind a long ago sunken ship. See more travel photos from the Sahara coastline slideshow.
Hanging clothes to dry on the terrace in the desert seems like an easy thing to do, no hassle. However, enter the wind. Yesterday we came back home and found socks embracing a towel on the floor while a shirt was comfortably slouching on a chair. A pair of shorts went AWOL; they were later found loitering in the nearby parking lot.
Sofitel in Rabat is not exactly located downtown, but once you see the hotel and its garden, you will definitely bite your elbows for all the times wasted in other 5 star establishments in Morocco’s capital.
The garden is a true work of gardening art – flamboyant, jazzy and highly luxurious. It enchants and soothes and there are few better pleasures than to sit at the pool restaurant gazing at the surrounding flora while your glass of wine is being refilled (they have some really fantastic local vintages that you can’t find anywhere else.)
The lobby, like most Sofitel lobbies, is vast and multi-functional. It offers you the ultimate in comfort: you can eat, drink, smoke a cigar and entertain yourself with a bit of shopping. If you are into comfy loafers or exquisite suits, Sofitel offers you a Tod’s and a Pal Zileri.
The rooms, as you would expect, are immaculate, the bathroom a pleasure to spend a few extra minutes under the shower and if you are fortunate to have a balcony, relieve some of the day’s tensions watching the sunset.
Sofitel has several restaurants, so take your pick: go crazy on couscous or watch that waistline and dig into one of their delicious salads (the chef truly proves that healthy food does not necessarily have to be boring). After dinner, move to the bar for some raspy live jazz.
Basically, if you are ever in Rabat, for business or pleasure, and want to be pampered, Sofitel should be your one and only choice.
Remember Chevy Chase in European Vacation, stuck in a roundabout in London? You thought that was funny, didn’t you? Well, even worse happened to us on the way to Marrakech. When we, after an exhausting ride, approached a roundabout, I suddenly noticed that all my driving skills seemed to have disappeared in a big black (pot) hole along the way. I just heard swiiiiish and they were gone. Goodbye! As soon I entered THE roundabout, there was a beep from a car behind.
–What! What did I do wrong?, I said screamed.
Something that started as a solo was shortly joined by a choir of blowing horns serenading me while I tried to get out of this self-inflicted inferno. I don’t know exactly how many traffic rules I violated, but I was soon to be informed by a police officer who waved me down (his face expressions suggested there were quite a few). After showing my driving license and explaining that this was our first time in Marrakech, he gave me an amused, fatherly look and let us continue. On the radio Aerosmith were blasting away: “I’m back, I’m back in the saddle again!” I raised the volume and we were ready to rock. Nothing was gonna stop us now!
I couldn’t be more wrong. While slowly approaching the next roundabout, I tried to recover any remaining knowledge about traffic rules. Should I go clockwise? Should I stay in the right lane when going straight? I was drawing blanks. Zilch. Where are the brain cells when you need them? (My drowsy travel companions didn’t seem to know anything either).
As soon as we entered the roundabout, the same horn choir was back (I could swear there was a conductor hiding somewhere in the bushes). To nobody’s surprise I also noticed how the next police officer prepared to wave me to the side. In a true Mr. Bean-maneuver I decided to avoid another tet-à-tet about my driving skills, so I varooomed through the circle and went back the same way we came from. At this point, my passengers were trying to slip under the floor mat, since they realized (news flash!) I was taking them back to the previous roundabout. (Yeah, the one with the police officer who already stopped me, remember?)
Only a miracle could save us now. Tensions were high and I saw Sam (who usually enjoys an occasional car-ride) nervously tearing off the last piece of hair from his tail. Just when I made eye contact with the police officer (he didn’t look amused seeing us again) I noticed a way out. A road leading to the right was my savior (which, ta-da, led us straight to our hotel). The rest of the week I meticulously refreshed my roundabout skills. Just to be on the safe side.
What better way to celebrate this special day treating yourself and your friends with some (yes, right guess) popcorn!
Put a little bit of cooking oil in a saucepan. Cover the bottom with popcorn kernels and cover the pan. Put it on high heat. Once it starts popping, shake the pan once in a while (with the lid on obviously) to make sure the popcorn doesn’t burn. When you hear the popping slowing down put them in a big bowl and sprinkle with salt. Melt thereafter one tbsp butter in the pre-heated pan. Add one tsp curry and one tsp chili, less if you can’t take the heat and stir until smooth. Pour over the popcorn and mix all together. Enjoy with a cold beer!
This is a New York landmark (3 or 4 stars, seems to depend on who you ask, but the price is definetly in the 5 star range) centrally located with numerous bars and restaurants next door, popular with mid-level dignitaries who usually book in groups to attend this or that international conference. The UN building is across the street and Fifth Avenue is only a 15 minutes brisk walk away. Maybe it’s not the fanciest hotel in town by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly has a lot of charm and a style that is very New-York-ish. Rooms are clean and basic (nothing to write home blog about) and start at the 28th floor so you are always guaranteed a flabbergasting panoramic view of Manhattan. This alone is worth staying here unless, of course, you are afraid of heights. Lately, the restaurant Ambassador Grill downstairs is only open for breakfast but in the evening you can get some nice treats at the bar (hamburger, club sandwich, etc.). The bartenders are helpful and can brief you on the latest news, places to visit or where to indulge in a juicy steak. If you’re lucky, Danny Glover or Joe Pesci might be sitting on the bar-stool next to you (according to our sources, this is one of their favorite hotels in town), and if it’s fancy enough for Hollywood stars it simply can’t be bad for us mortals either. Now, will it ever end up being upgraded to a 5 star establishment is a different question. Let’s see if Danny and Joe can pull some strings or use their Lethal Weapon.
Millennium UN Plaza Hotel
One United Nations Plaza
+1 212 758 1234