Monthly Archives: March 2012
We are supposed to be a joie de vivre blog, right? Sure, we have some five star hotels and Michelin star restaurants but when you think “high life”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Obviously, champagne. Lots of it. And oysters. So, in an attempt to live up to our reputation, we went to Dakhla, famous for its oyster farms, and bought one hundred big ones. To prove to our readers (and to ourselves) that we really are a truly luxurious blog, every Wednesday for the next eight weeks we will present to you one new oyster recipe prepared by the samandthedunes team (keep your fingers crossed). Here is the first one:
Sam’s surf n turf oysters.
100 g bacon
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sause
Open the oysters and put them on a baking pan. Put rice under to keep the oystes stable. Drizzle Worcestershire sause over the oysters. Top with finely chopped bacon (pre-fried).
Grill in oven for about 5-10 min. at 250 C (480F). Serve with chopped parsley and lemon wedge. Savor with a nice bubbly!
Sam, our dog, surprises us every day with his fondness for Italian cuisine. Of course, he likes pasta, but try giving him spaghetti without any sauce. No way. He wants the real thing. Once you put pasta on his plate you have to pour some tomato sauce over it, preferably the spicy arrabiata version. And, if Parmigiano is sprinkled on top, Sam goes absolutely crazy, licking away the last drops from his whiskers. Obviously we do not offer him wine but when we drink it ourselves he has that glimmer in his eyes, somewhat begging, but also appreciative of the enjoyment of a good Chianti. After dinner, while we are sipping a Cognac, Sam himself prefers a classic “Monte Bone” No. 3. It’s an offer he can’t refuse.
Dakhla, a small town on the Atlantic in the Sahara desert, offers one thing that is really tough to find – the perfect conditions for kitesurfing. Here there is a lagoon that has all you need: strong wind and perfectly flat water. The place to indulge in your extreme sports desires (if you have them obviously) is Ocean Vagabond, a bungalow hotel with all the required gadgets. You can rent the equipment, get a personal trainer or join a group, chill out on the veranda sipping a drink and have some reasonable food (heavy on vitamins and calories since you will be losing a few). The surfers staying here are mostly from France, Germany and UK, professionals and beginners, who after braving long distances, come for the excitement of generating some serious speed on that board.
Ocean Vagabond is located approximately 30 km north of Dakhla. If you want to visit the town itself, we suggest you go to the Bab Al Bahar Best Western hotel. If you are already into kitesurfing we don’t have to tell you more, but if you are willing to try it for the first time, book a week at Ocean Vagabond and go with the wind!
Bamboo Thai in Agadir, Morocco, is a Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Japanese restaurant all rolled into one. Tempura, sushi, dim sum and chicken satay with peanut sauce are offered at reasonable prices in a very pleasant setting (even though we missed the sea view). It’s located some serious meters away from the main boardwalk. The starters are quite big and the main courses are not small either. Wash it down with some wine or beer and leave space for dessert. OK, it’s not the best Asian restaurant we have been to, but it is good enough to spend an evening indulging oneself in some spicy stuff. It will not cost you a fortune and it is a nice place to chill out before you hit the Agadir night scene.
Are you planning to have some fun in Gran Canaria? Looking for good hotels and places to eat out? Go no further. Here is your ultimate guide to the best of Maspalomas and Meloneras in the south of the island, famous for deluxe relaxation at reasonable prices. Our eGuide is free, so go ahead, download it and don’t forget to share the information with your friends. We hope (nope, we are actually sure) you will have a great time visiting this place!
Lopesan Baobab, located in Meloneras, is arguably the biggest and most impressive looking hotel in Gran Canaria (we mean really big, almost a thousand rooms). When checking-in, you even get your own hotel map to study while sipping on a glass of sparkling wine. The design is African with vibrant art and an entrance built as a tropical garden with flamingos and waterfalls. But among all this architectural achievements, there is something very essential missing – lamps. The lightning is so bad in certain places that during the evening you actually have to make sure you don’t bump into a wall or sprain your ankle on the staircase. Cozy lightning is one thing but here you almost get the feeling that there is an electricity cut somewhere!
The rooms are normally sized and very well designed and if you get a balcony overlooking the sea, it’s even better. (But why on earth is the shampoo bottle attached to the wall a meter away from the bathtub?).
Food-wise you will definitely not be disappointed. The buffet offers a nice variety of choices and the restaurant “Akara” has a unique setting and a very tasty menu. For instance, we can highly recommend the spicy banana soup as a starter. It’s delicious beyond believe! The gym is small and relatively functional. But for some reason, no running machines are provided which we thought was disappointing. Another minus is that you have to pay extra for the safe deposit box (it’s the same in all Lopesan hotels in Maspalomas/Meloneras) which usually is offered free of charge in other 5-star hotels.
There are several pools and lots of stuff to do for the many kids at this hotel. You will even find huge crocodiles and giraffes (not real ones – plastic) around the pool area. As a couple, looking for a vacation in a relaxing atmosphere, who enjoy a spa and cool bars, we will probably avoid this place in the future. However, if you go to Gran Canaria with your kids, don’t hesitate; Hotel Lopesan Baobab can definitely be something for you.
Moments restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Barcelona is often advertised as the best restaurant in town. According to us it is not, but it’s a exquisite place to have a very romantic dinner. Moments is the brain child of chef Carme Ruscalleda, who is no novice to the cooking business having earned several Michein stars. Her new culinary establishment is dedicated to the works of local artist Josep Riera i Aragó. As in most Michelin star restaurants (Moments recently got its first), the name of the dish doesn’t really describe what you are going to eat, but don’t be shy, go crazy (or perhaps ask the waiter) and pick something you think will be that ultimate experience you’ve been craving for. You simply can’t go wrong (well, maybe with the stuffed pigeon). Starters are excellent and the main course will not disappoint you either. The wine list is extensive and the sommelier would be delighted to pair your choices with the appropriate red or white. Now, this is one of those places where it should be borderline illegal to skip dessert, since you will reminisce about it for the next several weeks. We still can’t forget that delicate chocolate and orange truffle and the little ruby of fruit with a taste so fresh it lingers in the mouth for hours. So why isn’t this the best food experience we had in Barcelona? The answer is easy. The kitchen sometimes pays too much attention to the visual part. All courses are displayed as tributes to Josep Riera i Aragó’s paintings and they look sometimes more fascinating than they taste. We are sorry to say but more attention should simply be paid to the adequate use of spices. The overall experience at Moments is still very good and it offers you a unique opportunity to take somebody you cherish into the world of fine dining and contemporary art at the same time.
We had this pack of crab sticks in the fridge but didn’t really know what to do with them except for using in various salads. But one day we bought some noodles and it suddenly struck us, hmmm, what if…
OK, here is a hot recipe you can make without breaking a sweat (ah, but you will when eating). In fact, it will even make your eyes water.
200 grams crab sticks
1 red pepper, chopped
1 small chili pepper, chopped
½ can of pineapples, sliced
½ cup pineapple juice
200 grams sweet chili sauce
Sesame oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, curry
1 small leek, chopped
Put sesame oil, peppers, pineapples, chili and sweet chili sauce into a hot pan. Mix in the pineapple juice and the crab sticks. Add salt, pepper, garlic and curry powder to taste. Cook for about 10 – 15 minutes. Boil the noodles. Add the spicy crab stick sause and garnish with chopped leeks. Enjoy with a glass of chilled rosé and beware – you will be breathing fire!