Monthly Archives: February 2012
2 dl rolled oats
1 dl almonds
1 dl cashew nuts (not salted)
1 dl dried dates
1 dl dried mango
1 dl pineapple juice
1 tbsp Argan oil
1 tbsp honey
1-2 tsp sugar
Chop almonds and cashew nuts and mix everything together with rolled oats, pineapple juice, Argan oil, honey and sugar. Put the mix in a roasting pan in the oven (15 min, 200 degrees). Stir from time to time so it doesn’t burn. Once the mix has cooled down, add slivered dates and pieces of dried mango. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy your homemade muesli together with milk or yogurt.
Moving into a new house is always exciting. The funny thing is that none of us in the Samandthedunes team has ever lived in such a big one before. Four rooms and a kitchen, plus a front and a back yard is pretty cool. But what we didn’t expect were the new and unfamiliar noises a new house can generate. Actually, the first night we didn’t get much sleep at all since a scary, strange sound from the kitchen kept us awake all the time. Even Sam (who usually likes to think of himself as brave) was clearly uncomfortable and his nervous shivering sadly reminded us of the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz. As if this wasn’t enough, the morning after we woke up in a state of complete horror. The roaring sound outside the door was definitely not a product of our imagination. Our brain told us that there are no tigers, lions, beasts of prey, Draculas or Hellraisers in the neighborhood but then why did it sound like somebody just stepped on Freddy Krueger’s toe? Slowly we opened the front door just to find…a camel. Still surprised, but relieved it wasn’t any of the other creatures, we stumbled back to bed as living dead in an attempt to catch up on some sleep.
The second most expensive hotel on Gran Canaria, Seaside Hotel Palm Beach***** in Maspalomas, is advertised as a 5 star but fails to live up to the standards. Built in 1975, it was refurbished and re-designed into an updated version of the 70s style in 2002 and became the only hotel on the Canary Islands that belongs to Design Hotels. Sure, you get the welcome drink, rooms are nicely decorated and there is a fun bar in the basement. However, once you start looking closely you get more and more disappointed considering the amount of money you actually pay. “Is it really worth it?” was the question constantly popping up in our heads while staying here. The bathroom is a slightly enlarged shoebox and the room ends up feeling cramped (we can swear that the bed was at least 15 cm shorter than usual). We also tried their signature restaurant Orangerie and were not impressed. For starters, the oysters arrived at our table half frozen!! The restaurant manager tried to assure us they were fresh and that they just spent too much time on ice (hellloooo, guys, where is quality control?!). The outside gym looks like it hasn’t been updated since the stationary bike was invented. We actually never tried the spa and wellness center (Thalassotherapy pool, saunas and relaxation area) since we decided we just couldn’t take another disappointment. The only thing that impressed us was the 70s type bar with groovy tunes and fun bands playing late into the night. The clientele average age is high, though. So high most of them actually seemed to have been retired already when the Beatles made it big. To make a long story short: not a bad hotel but definitely not worth the money charged. Basically, Seaside Hotel Palm Beach is a semi-failed 5 star pretending being the flashiest kid in town.
We arrived in the desert two and a half years ago with two normal sized suitcases. Well, one of them (OK Hanna’s) was slightly oversized. Today we are moving to our new house with, believe it or not, eight boxes (each the size of a dog house), 30 bags and…the original two suitcases. How did that happen? Good question (ask…Hanna). Anyway, once all our belongings were moved, Sam, alias Inspector Cloueseau, immediately started to check out the new premises by smelling every corner. Pink Panther move over!
It didn’t start on the best of terms when we arrived at the Intercontinental, Geneva. As usual we checked in, got our keys, went up to the room, opened the door and…SURPRISE! somebody was sitting on our bed, in our room (well, at least it was supposed to be ours for a couple of days). After an embarrassing exchange of glances (staring might be a more proper word), we quietly closed the door and went back to the reception. After explaining this weird incident, a red-faced manager immediately apologized and decided to personally escort us to a nice suite that we later found out was almost four times the price of what we paid for. Wow, and this was one suite! (Intercontinental, we forgive you!)
We had a panoramic view of the Geneva Lake, a marble bathroom, lots of space and an exceptionally comfy bed. Some of the gadgets on offer required serious research on what exactly they can be used for and we’re sorry to say but we couldn’t figure out the purpose of four strange looking buttons in the bathroom. There are no surprises once service is concerned. If you want coffee delivered in ten minutes, it will be done so. Sharp. Exactly on the dot. (There must be a reason why all the best watches are being produced in this country).
One thing for sure, in Geneva the prices will scare the living daylights out of you. A beer at the hotel bar is about 16 dollars and pasta with your choice of sauce is 40 (yes, dollars!!). A five minute taxi ride downtown clocks 25 green ones. However, you will be amazed by the attention lavished at the bar, restaurant, reception, concierge, etc. All your requests are attended to as promptly as possible. The staff are fluent in 4-5 languages, so no worries here.
The food is first rate and the atmosphere in the lobby is one of calmness and efficiency. The Intercontinental looks a bit bizarre from outside (it’s a 60s type new architecture building), but if one can live with that, then you will understand why more than 150 heads of state have chosen to stay here over the past 50 years.
If you are willing to brave a 30 minute ride on a cliff road that is slightly wider than a Mini and if you do not meet the Maker on the way, you will come to a small village in the middle of Gran Canaria called Fataga. It is not even a one horse town since we spend a full five minutes checking all its streets looking for that one horse, but in the process we instead found two restaurants, an art shop, a Bodega (for you ‘I speak only English’ types, it’s a wine shop in Español) and some really scenic views of the adjoining mountains. There is also the obligatory church square, a mini-market with essentials and very little else. If you are looking for some quality time romantic-wise, the small restaurant at the beginning of the village is a great choice. Over some traditional Canary dishes (croquetas de jamon, queso frito and papas arrugadas) two can sit and marvel at a view that would make any nature photographer who forgot his camera check into a mental hospital. The wine is house and comes in a carafe, it’s light and pleasant.
Once you order a taxi back, gulp down a few more glasses so that you can keep that delicious food inside while taking the mountain road down. It’s a fun day trip for the strong-hearted. And if “real adventure” means also for you having the hamburger grilled medium-rear, continue reading this blog. We have more stuff coming up.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Unfortunately the Samandthedunes team has to celebrate this special day separately since 1/3 (Hanna) is doing hotel and restaurant research on Gran Canaria, 1/3 (Alex) has to work (no we can’t live of this blog, yet) and 1/3 (Sam) is on a two week recreation holiday. Anyway, no matter how you are celebrating this day, here is at least some enjoyable reading for everyone. A classic from the Onion: http://onion.com/dpar56
If looks was the only thing that mattered in the restaurant business, we would have never, never visited Samsara on Gran Canaria (Maspalomas). Who puts a classy Asian restaurant on top off a grocery store, an ice cream parlor and a watering hole for tourists? No wonder we passed by it several times without even giving it a cursory look. However, on several occasions people who seemed to know food recommended Samsara and we decided to venture over. Now, beware: you can’t just show up at Samsara, you need to reserve, it is, no joke, by reservation only. Once we climbed the stairs and entered what we just though two seconds ago would be an architectural monstrosity not for the weak-hearted ended up being a very pleasant and nicely decorated restaurant with a lot of Oriental influences spread around. Friendly waiters welcomed us and showed us our table on the terrace (or inside, it’s your choice). The food is fantastic although there is no clear definition between starters and main courses. The black spaghetti with shrimps in a ginger sauce is finger-licking good and so is the curry served with coconut rice. The Provolone cheese in hot tomato sauce deserves special mentioning since it just is impossible to resist. The desserts are assembled as small pieces of art and if you still have space, go for them. You will not be let down by this restaurant, it’s fun, delicious and a pleasure to spend a few hours enjoying the food as well as the interior design. Just don’t forget to reserve.