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  • Great Chefs Of The World

    Chef Ken Frank of La Toque

    Chef Ken Frank of La Toque

    Napa Valley with its endless vineyards, year round freshness in its orchards and gardens …moreNapa Valley with its endless vineyards, year round freshness in its orchards and gardens is a perfect environment for wine and food pairing. Ken Ken Frank, has spent more than two- thirds of his life in the kitchen. He learned how to cook in France then moved in Los Angeles where he became a celebrity chef with his restaurant La Toque on Sunset pioneering food and wine pairing there. After running it for 15 years He moved to Napa because he says La Toque has always been a “wine restaurant” and he opened his new La Toque inside the Westin, a true ”wine Hotel”. Since the 70’s Ken has been experimenting with classic technique using the freshest local ingredients. Napa offered immediate access to fresh produce and the best heritage meat suppliers of Northern California. “Moving to Napa Valley was the smartest thing I’ve ever done,” says Frank. “I couldn’t have this kind of restaurant just anywhere.” From his early days in France Ken’s passion for innovation has always been fueled by his attachment to the soil . His move to Napa is part of his journey toward finding his authenticity as a chef in a rich natural environment. So what if it takes a little more travel time to eat at his restaurant? People will keep coming because excellence is the magnet. Michelin stars earned in 2007 and 2009 attest to that. Most recently La Toque was named one of “America’s Best Top 100 Wine Restaurants of 2011” in Wine Enthusiast Magazine. less

    10 Best: Bangkok- Cooking class

    10 Best: Bangkok- Cooking class

    The 10 Best series highlights the best things to do in the top cities around the world. …moreThe 10 Best series highlights the best things to do in the top cities around the world. From the Bangkok Marriott Pier, the Manhora cruise boat departs Monday to Friday for Thai cooking classes cruising down the Chaophraya River. The boat is a 100 year old rice barge restored for 21st century luxury cruising. Sunida is taught the art of preparing a 5 course banquet by Chef de Partie Patchareekorn Seehawat. Here we see the making of the most famous of Thai soups:the Tom Yum Talay. Hosted by Sunida Thirasak, a Bangkok native presently living in New York. less

    Cooking with Zarela: Sparkling fresh-Fresh chile.

    Cooking with Zarela: Sparkling fresh-Fresh chile.

    Mexican born Zarela Martinez is one the leading U.S. restaurateurs. Her namesake restaura…moreMexican born Zarela Martinez is one the leading U.S. restaurateurs. Her namesake restaurant is a Manhattan institution and a culinary trend-setter. She has authored several acclaimed books:"Food from my heart","Food and life of Oaxaca" and "Zarela's Veracruz". Her 13 part series "Zarela, Cocina Veracruzana" is airing on PBS. She has made guest appearances on many TV shows including "Julia Child:cooking with master chefs" and " Martha Stewart". less

  • 10 Best Things To Do

    10 Best: Bangkok- personal Chef at Lebua Hotel

    10 Best: Bangkok- personal Chef at Lebua Hotel

    Bua means lotus in Thai and the french"le" before it clearly spells this Hotel mission to…moreBua means lotus in Thai and the french"le" before it clearly spells this Hotel mission to be the ultimate in East-West sophistication offering all suites and amenities like a personal chef cooking in your room featured here. Ranked as "2008 best Luxury Hotel", by Traveler's Choice, Trip Advisor, Lebua at State Tower is located in the heart of Bangkok a few steps from the Chao-Phraya river. This is a different Bangkok from the familiar hustle and bustle one and its restaurant and bar on the 65th floor terrace offer the most breathtaking views of the city. Hosted by Sunida Thirasak, a Bangkok native presently living in New York. less

    10 Best: Cambodia-Phnom Penh, "Capital of Asia"

    10 Best: Cambodia-Phnom Penh, "Capital of Asia"

    Phnom Penh, on the banks of 3 rivers Tonlé Sap, Mekong, and Bassac rivers was once called…morePhnom Penh, on the banks of 3 rivers Tonlé Sap, Mekong, and Bassac rivers was once called “The Capital of Asia”. Today it is fast becoming a a modern metropolis with a hectic nite life. The oldest attraction is the Wat Phnom constructed in 1373. The legend about the building of the Wat Phnom is tied to the founding of this city. People come to the temple burning money and bringing food offerings.The bird sellers at the temples will let you buy a bird and let it free. The French came upon invitation from the King of Cambodia who was afraid of a Thai invasion in the late 1900. They stayed until 1953 and left their mark with large boulevards and luxurious colonial villas. They built the historic Hotel Le Royale which is now part of the Raffles chain and In the 30’s they built the train station, an impressive deco building. The French also built the Central market Phsar Thom Thmei. This market was built in a monumental deco style in 1937 and is a Phnom Penh landmark with its large dome visible from all over the city. The Independence monument was built by the famous Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann in 1953 as a lotus shaped stupa to celebrate Cambodia liberation from the French. Another must see attraction is the Royal Palace built in the mid 1800’s on the banks of the Tonle Sap river; It serves as the home of King Norodom Sihamoni and former King Norodom Sihanouk. The National Museum, was built during the French colonial era in the classical Khmer style has a spectacular collection of Khmer antiquities from the golden age of Khmer culture. Hosted and narrated by Roberto Mitrotti 10 Best highlights the best things to do in a city or country. For more information visit http://www.cambodia.org less

    10 Best: Bangkok - Floating market

    10 Best: Bangkok - Floating market

    One of the most famous pictures of Thailand, and one of the most visited tourist sites on…moreOne of the most famous pictures of Thailand, and one of the most visited tourist sites on the outskirts of Bangkok, is the famous Floating Market. The original and most promoted Floating Market, Damnoen Saduak, is located 110 kilometres from Bangkok in Rachaburi province. Getting to the Floating Market takes between one and a half to over two hours from Bangkok depending on traffic conditions. Even though transactions are more concerned with tourists rather than locals these days, the floating market/boats are still piled high with tropical fruit and vegetables, fresh, ready-to-drink coconut juice and local food cooked from floating kitchens located right on the boat. less

  • Great Hotels Of The World

    Morocco: Scenic Voyage magical Tour

    Morocco: Scenic Voyage magical Tour

    Morocco is only 10 miles from Spain and its 3 main gateways Casablanca, Tangiers and Marr…moreMorocco is only 10 miles from Spain and its 3 main gateways Casablanca, Tangiers and Marrakech. Low cost airlines connect them with 2 to 3 hours flights to major European capitals. Casablanca is a bustling metropolis. Its must-see site is the spectacular King Hasan Mosque built right on the Atlantic coast and the second largest in the world after Mecca. The next stop is Rabat, the present capital of Morocco. Plenty to see. Not to be missed is the great Mohammed V Mausoleum with the Hassan Tower. The Medina with its Andalusian blue walls. The Atlantic beaches are wide and pristine. In 1500 bc The Phoenicians used Asilah it as trading port. the Portuguese came in the 15th century and staid for 300 years leaving military fortification. Its position on the Atlantic makes it a great fishing port. Tangier is an international city on the northern tip of Morocco in direct view of Spain. It has access to both Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, and is a major cruiseship port. After A circle of writers, artists and Hollywood stars converged to Tangiers after WWII and a made it a fashionable spot. The world came to watch the action from its sidewalk cafes in the medina. Among the luxury hotels in Tangiers is the 5 star Movenpick on the Mediterranean side with luxurious amenities and superb Moroccan cuisine. Moroccan cuisine is very diverse with influences from Berber, Mediterranean and Arab cuisines. Cape Spartel faces the strait of Gilbratar and is considered the northernmost point of the African continent. The Hercules grotto nearby fill up at high tide. The entrance of this mythical place has the shape of an upside map of Africa. Further east on the mediterranean a and Cabo Negro and Martil, cities of endless beaches facing the pristine waters of the Mediterranean. Chefchaouen.is surrounded for miles by olive groves is This is also one of the busiest mountain markets town. The Andalousian architecture of white and blue houses can be found in the kasbah and its gardens, at the center of the medina. This is also a dying and weaving center. The famous djellaba, the long garment worn by the men and women of North Africa, was created here. We stop at the Holy City Of Moulay Idriss where the founder of Islam is buried. His tomb is a pilgrimage site for Muslims. Close by is the beautifully preserved archaeological site of the Roman city of Volubilis. From here on to the Imperial City of Meknes. Sultan Moulay spared no expense in creating this jewel of a city, building 40 kilometers of walls, an artificial lake and Bab Mansour, the grandest of all gates in Morocco on the big square which rivals Marrakech with its theatrical events. Fez, was the first Imperial City built in 790 A.D. by Moulay Idriss II. This is the world last surviving Medieval city with great monuments and a sprawling a Medina with the oldest tanneries in the world. Fez is also known for great shopping in its bustling souks. Great accommodations can be found in the Riads, old historic Moroccan homes converted to Hotels. Fez is the home of Scenic Voyages one of the premier travel agencies in Morocco serving all travel from Europe and the US . The drive to the Sahara is 300 miles over the dramatic Atlas Mountains. Here great Moroccan specialties like tagine and cous cous can be tasted in restaurants along the mountains. Erfoud is the beginning of the Sahara. Great empty spaces populated by camels with occasional encampments of nomadic people. A four wheel drive is necessary to get to the the sand dunes of Merzouga. Overnight in a Berber Bivouac sleeping under the stars in the desert. sunrise comes while gliding on camelback on the golden sands of the Sahara . This is truly Spectacular. And a big surprise is the luxurious Breakfast at the bivouac. We drive to Zagora in the Dra Valley at the edge of the desert surrounded by oasis and Casbahs like Tifoultoute, ancient fortified towns still inhabited today Ouarzazate has the sprawling and impressive Atlas Film Studios where Gladiator and Kundun were filmed. In Marrakech a visit to the monumental Saadian Tombs is a must. The great Mosque needs to be seen. And then the Medina has some of the best shopping anywhere.. But the big story is in Djemaa Elfna, a grand open theater with storytellers, fire eaters, snake-charmers and endless open-air restaurants. Food stalls display the great variety of dishes of Moroccan cuisine. Taroudant is an ancient city in the south with the feel of an old market town. Local women grind a nut with healing properties called argan used to make cosmetic creams. Taroudant with its rug weaving and crafts tradition is a great shopping stop. Agadir is a resort town on the southern Atlantic with beaches that go on forever and endless luxury hotels. It is also one of the busiest fishing ports in North Africa, Next stop Essaouira, an 800 year old Atlantic port with a massive fort and charming café’s and restaurants. El Jadida with beautiful Atlantic beaches was a Portuguese settlement from the 15th to the 18th century and it is heavily surrounded by fortified walls. Last stop back in Casablanca. This hectic city slows down on the week-end and this is the last chance to experience the relaxed Moroccan way of life before returning home. Air travel courtesy of Royal Air Morocco Travel co-ordination courtesy of the Moroccan Tourist Board Morocco is a great and safe destination for students, families and meeting planners. www.scenicvoyage.com/ less

    Tuscany Luxury Wine Tour Part 1

    Tuscany Luxury Wine Tour Part 1

    Castello di Tornano in the heart of Chianti (Gaiole in Chianti) makes an outstanding wine…moreCastello di Tornano in the heart of Chianti (Gaiole in Chianti) makes an outstanding wine from the vineyards surrounding it. The complex was a medieval castle from the 10th century, lavishly restored. The Ricasoli family of Castello di Brolio dates back to the 7th Century. An ancestor of the current owner Francesco, Bettino Ricasoli, was prime Minister of Italy in the 19th Century and invented the Chianti formula. The winery is the oldest in Italy. Badia a Coltibuono once an Abbey from the 11th century is now a charming hotel, restaurant, winery and cooking school run by the Stucchi Prinetti family dedicated to the preservation of the oldest traditions of the Chianti region. Poggio Antico in Montalcino is the highest elevation winery growing Brunello. An excellent Restaurant run by Chef Roberto Minnetti is on the premises preparing dishes steeped in Tuscan history. Castello Banfi at Sant’Agelo Scalo is owned by the Mariani family dedicated to producing superior wines on their large 6,000 acres estate, marked by technological innovation. An old farm complex in nearby Collupino serves as residence for guests of the Banfi winery. Montepulciano is a Medieval Renaissance town on top of a mountain in the province of Siena known for its “Nobile wine” only produced here. Valdipiatta, an awarded winery, produces the vino Nobile from Prugnolo and Lanaiolo grapes. The owner Mr Caporali runs a wine school educating visitors about wine varieties and growing techniques. He also runs Il Grifon D’Oro, a trendy restaurant and Il Poliziano, an historic cafe in the center of town. Contucci is the oldest wine cellar in Montepulciano holding tastings since Renaissance times. It is located in the main piazza overlooking Palazzo Comunale. Avignonesi is a combination of 4 estates growing awarded wines. It is also a farmhouse growing its own products for its kitchen and its store. The open farm kitchen serves local specialties. Relais San Bruno is an elegant boutique Hotel set among an olive grove and fruit orchard under the walls of Montepulciano. less

    Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, Siem Reap

    Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, Siem Reap

    For over 75 years, a visit to the ancient Angkor temples has been synonymous with a stay …moreFor over 75 years, a visit to the ancient Angkor temples has been synonymous with a stay at Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor. Now sensitively restored, the hotel's renewed elegance and modernity complement the mystery and grandeur of Angkor as never before. less

  • World Heritage Sites

    Venice pidgeons outnumber tourists

    Venice pidgeons outnumber tourists

    St Mark's Square is the principal public square of Venice, Italy, where it is generally …more St Mark's Square is the principal public square of Venice, Italy, where it is generally known just as "the Piazza". The Piazzetta (the 'little Piazza') is an extension of the Piazza towards the lagoon in its south east corner. The two spaces together form the social, religious and political centre of Venice. It is one of the few great urban spaces in Europe where human voices and the cooing of pidgeons prevail over the sounds of motorized traffic. Venice and its lagoons are a Unesco World Heritage Site. less

    Jerusalem : Church of the Holy Sepulchre

    Jerusalem : Church of the Holy Sepulchre

    The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians…moreThe Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the Christian Quarter of the walled Old City of Jerusalem. The site is venerated as Golgotha (the Hill of Calvary), where Jesus was crucified, and is said also to contain the place where Jesus was buried (the Sepulchre). The church has been a paramount – and for many Christians the most important – pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century, as the purported site of the resurrection of Jesus. Today it also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, while control of the building is shared between several Christian churches and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for centuries. Today, the church is home to Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Anglican and Protestant Christians have no permanent presence in the church and some regard the alternative Garden Tomb, elsewhere in Jerusalem, as the true place of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection. On the south side of the altar is a stairway climbing to Calvary (Golgotha), traditionally regarded as the site of Jesus' crucifixion and the most lavishly decorated part of the church. The main altar there belongs to the Greek Orthodox, which contains The Rock of Calvary (12th Station of the Cross). The rock can be seen under glass on both sides of the altar, and beneath the altar there is a hole said to be the place where the cross was raised. Due to the significance of this, it is the most visited site in the Holy Sepulchre. The Roman Catholics (Franciscans) have an altar to the side, The Chapel of the Nailing of the Cross (11th Station of the Cross). On the left of the altar, towards the Eastern Orthodox chapel, there is a statue of Mary, believed to be working wonders (the 13th Station of the Cross, where Jesus' body was removed from the cross and given to his family). Beneath the Calvary and the two chapels there, on the main floor, there is The Chapel of Adam. According to tradition, Jesus was crucified over the place where Adam's skull was buried. The Rock of Calvary is seen cracked through a window on the altar wall, the crack traditionally being said to be caused by the earthquake that occurred when Jesus died on the cross, and being said by more critical scholars to be the result of quarrying against a natural flaw in the rock. Just inside the entrance is The Stone of Anointing, also known as The Stone of Unction, which tradition claims to be the spot where Jesus' body was prepared for burial by Joseph of Arimathea. However, this tradition is only attested since the crusader era, and the present stone was only added in the 1810 reconstruction. The Rotunda is located beneath the larger of the church's two domes. In the centre of the Rotunda is the chapel called The Edicule, which contains the Holy Sepulchre itself. The Edicule has two rooms. The first one holds The Angel's Stone, a fragment of the stone believed to have sealed the tomb after Jesus' burial. The second one is the tomb itself. Under the status quo, the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic Churches all have rights to the interior of the tomb. The church is a UNESCO World Heritage site. less

    Istanbul

    Istanbul

    Istanbul biggest draw remains its historic center, partially listed as a UNESCO World Her…moreIstanbul biggest draw remains its historic center, partially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sultan Ahmed Mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. At its lower levels and at every pier, the interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles in more than fifty different tulip designs. Dolmabahçe Palace, located in the Beşiktaş district on the European coastline of the Bosphorus strait, served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922, Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. Topkapi Palace was the Sultan's residence during Ottoman's times. Construction began in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At its peak, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, The Spice Bazaar, or Egyptian Bazaar is one of the largest bazaars in the city. Located in Fatih, in the neighborhood of Eminönü and is the second largest covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar. The building itself is part of the külliye of Yeni Mosque, and rents from the shops within was intended to help pay for the upkeep of the mosque. The structure was designed by the chief court architect Koca Kasım Ağa, but completed by architect Mustafa in 1660. less