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  • Great Chefs Of The World

    Ceretto: art, food and Barolo

    Ceretto: art, food and Barolo

    Alba in Piedmont is a very small town but it’s big in 3 areas: Art…. Food, being the worl…moreAlba in Piedmont is a very small town but it’s big in 3 areas: Art…. Food, being the world capital of black and white truffles and Wine, producing world reknown Barolo right here. The Ceretto family in Alba is literally and seriously involved in all 3 area. Established wine growers for 70 years they also own their own upscale restaurants and have enlisted major world artists to decorate their building. This never consecrated psychedelic chapel was painted by Saul Lewitt in 1999. Their winery is in nearby Castiglione Falletto, an old medieval town. However true to their adventurous spirit they picked Turin architect De Abate to design their modern building with a glass cube for the tasting room. On these hils on 20 acres they produce 3 outstanding Barolos which have won the company many awards: Bricco Rocche, Prapo and Brunate. So for their Piazza Duomo restaurant they picked Enrico Crippa, an awarded chef who paints beautiful dishes in the kitchen and the artist Francesco Clemente who painted the walls. Of course their Barolo is always on the table. The Chef explains that the fresco it represents happiness, the vineyard, nature and freedom. He also remembers that Clemente was painting with natural colors, made with flowers and natural herbs so while painting the room always filled up with insects and bees which were following the scent as if they were in an open field instead of a room in the center of town. less

    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

    Cooking with Zarela: Thorny issue-Nopales

    Cooking with Zarela: Thorny issue-Nopales

    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: Berlin- Neue Galerie

    10 Best: Berlin- Neue Galerie

    10 Best series highlights the best things to do in the top cities around the world. …more10 Best series highlights the best things to do in the top cities around the world. Designed by Mis Van Der Rohe and combing the collections of East and West Germany after re=unification, this Museum house some of the most impressive works of XXthe Century masters from Cubism, Bauhaus, Expressionism and Surrealism. Hosted by Julia Grimpe, a theater and TV star who resides in Berlin. less

    Bridge on River Kwai

    Bridge on River Kwai

    The Bridge on the River Kwai, (made famous by the omonymous film with Alec Guinness and W…moreThe Bridge on the River Kwai, (made famous by the omonymous film with Alec Guinness and William Holden and which won 7 Academy Awards in 1957) was a key strategic element for the Japanese war effort during WWII. The Japanese needed to build a railroad in record time between Thailand and India a and they used their war prisoners to do it. Construction of the Thailand-Burma Railway began on September 16, 1942. The Railway, was to transport 3,000 tons of supplies per day to the frontline troops in Burma. Much of it required high bridges cut through mountains and jungle. The human cost was incredibly high. The railway operated for just 21 months before it was crippled by Allied weapons, The train runs daily between Kanchanaburi and the current terminus at Nam Tok going over the bridge and passing over the equally impressive Wampo Viaduct, also built by prisoners of war. 61,000 Allied prisoners of war are believed to have labored on the railway under impossible conditions, including 30,000 British, 18,000 Dutch, 13,000 Australian, and 700 American soldiers. 16,000 of those troops died, many of them from diseases like cholera, beri beri, malaria, and typhoid, Another 200,000 Asian laborers, mostly Thai, were forced to work on the railway. More than 80,000 lost their lives. less

  • Great Hotels Of The World

    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

    Eden Rock Resort in the Tuscan Hills

    Eden Rock Resort in the Tuscan Hills

    Just a few kilometers from Florence, in the hills below Fiesole, with a full view of the …moreJust a few kilometers from Florence, in the hills below Fiesole, with a full view of the Duomo is the charming residence hotel called Eden Rock. Built by world famous race car driver Clemente Biondetti in the 50’s and carved into the rugged mountain that frames it, the Eden Rock is a modern version of the many castles which dot the tuscan country site. With a beaituful pool and Jacuzzi,an open air lobby dug out of the rock and covered with copper tiles, it has 13 suites in all with every comfort plus a cellar club stocked with vintage wine from Tuscany. And just a few minutes way Florence beckons in all its glory. Via Bolognese Nuova, 7 50139 Firenze (FI), Italy +39 055 400331 www.edenrockresort.it www.epoquehotels.com less

    Luxury Wine Tour of Piedmont

    Luxury Wine Tour of Piedmont

    The area in Piedmont called Langhe Roero has given the world the gift of truffles, the Ne…moreThe area in Piedmont called Langhe Roero has given the world the gift of truffles, the Nebbiolo grape, from which Barolo and Barbaresco come from and a dazzling cuisine that is both aristocratic and simple. On this luxury wine tour among castles and vineyards you’ll meet the makers of these great wines and the chefs working their luscious cuisine in some of the most charming medieval towns in Italy. Your trip starts at the Villa Tiboldi, luxuriously renovated Villa and Farmhouse surrounded by Nebbiolo and Arneis vineyards with views that go on forever. The estate produces its own excellent Arneis Malvira. Alba has a beautiful Cathedral from the XIth Century and a rich historic center. However Alba’s heart beats to the tune of the truffle. Renato Agnello, truffle hunter of of 60 years leads a walk through the woods with his dog Diana, looking for truffles. Tartufi Morra is a truffle emporium Established in 1930 working with all the truffle hunters in the area. It has the ultimate selection of everything truffles from chocolate to oils The restaurant Piazza Duomo owned by the Ceretto winemaking family is a shocking pink space with frescoes by Francesco Clemente .The avantguarde cuisine of Chef Enrico Crippa has earned the restaurant a one Michelin star. This is a café and pastry shop created by chef Luca Mentersino uses no sugar, milk or flour. Everything is made with substitute. So go ahead and splurge. Katja and Ivan Rivetti are the third generation of Rivetti making barbaresco here. Tops wines are Bricco Barbaresco and Bricco de Neveis. Housed in a sprawling and movie-set-like 18th century castle owned by the Stupino brothers, the winery focuses on specialty wines. In the 70’s the Stupino’s cloned an old variety of Arneis vine producing a remarkable sparkling Pinot Noir. Among their wide range of wines they produce a top Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano. The restaurant La Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso sits on top of sprawling vineyards is owned by chef Maurilio Garola. It. The Chef has consistently received one Michelin star for his ground breaking dishes such as “ Plin de Seirass”, ravioli stuffed with ricotta and served in an actual nest made out of hay. The fortified Castle erected in the XIth Century on top of a hill once belonged to Count Camillo Benso of Cavour, one of the architects of the Unification of Italy. The castle has a very large Enoteca representing the best of Piedmont wines and grappas. Barolo is a charming medieval town surrounded by wineries. Therefore opening a corkscrew museum was a no brainer for Paolo Annoni who was once a pharmacist but abandoned his old profession to pursue his obsession. Over the years he has travelled the world and auction houses searching for the most unusual corkscrews, collecting 1,300 rare ones . Barolo was first created by the Marchesi Falletti in the middle of the 19th century around the village of Barolo. A bottle of the first Barolo, "Cannubbio 1859” is on permanent display, while vintages from 1938 on are available to collectors. The Enoteca has the most complete collection of Barolo in the world with 35.000 bottles of Barolo and the yearly addition of 400 bottles. Giant 19 century chestnut barrels have been reconditioned to age outstanding Barolo like the Barolo Cannubi or various Barolo Riserva. Locanda nel Borgo Antico is set in an hamlet outside Barolo. In this elegant restaurant Chef Camia prepares his signature traditional classic dishes which have earned him a Michelin star. In little more than thirty years, the Ceretto brothers created a 300 acres network of small independent estates producing some outstanding labels. They have sponsored major art projects like the Clemente frescos for their restaurant, the Sol Lewitt Chapel among the vineyards and for their winery in the town of Castiglione Falletto they have created their futuristic wine-tasting glass cube. Top wines are Bricco Rocche, Brunate and Prapo’. You will stay in the Hotel Villa Beccaris an 18th century palazzo surrounded by vineyards near the historic town of Monforte DAlba. 3 Burlotto sisters run the Castle which their grandfather bought from the first King of Italy. The family restored and maintains the original frescos and furniture. Here cooking lesson in classic Piedmontese dishes are conducted. The winery has some of the oldest vintages in the region dating back from 1850. Top wines are Verduno Basadone, Barbaresco Rabaja’ and the Dolcetto D’Alba Campot. A truly royal lunch is served in the castle courtyard. Pietro Ratti runs the business founded by his father in the 60’s. Today this state of the arts winery produces an outstanding Barolo Marcenasco. In the medieval town of La Morra on top of a hillside sits an old castle, now the restaurant Belvedere with spectacular views of the Barolo hills all the way to the alps. The Bovio family that owns it produces an outstanding Barolo. Copyright Christina Tours, LLC less

  • World Heritage Sites

    Byblos

    Byblos

    Byblos today is believed by many to be the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the wor…moreByblos today is believed by many to be the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Only a third of the once grand Roman Theatre of Byblos has survived to this day. It was built in 218 AD and its floor once contained a mosaic of the god Bacchus, now at the National Museum of Beirut. less

    Aleppo

    Aleppo

    Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world perhaps as early a…moreAleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world perhaps as early as the 6th millennium BC.The city's significance in history has been its location at the end of the Silk Road, which passed through central Asia and Mesopotamia. When the Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1869, trade was diverted to sea and Aleppo began its slow decline. At the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Aleppo ceded its northern hinterland to modern Turkeyl. Then in the 1940s it lost its main access to the sea, Antioch and Alexandretta (Iskenderun), also to Turkey. Finally, the isolation of Syria in the past few decades further exacerbated the situation, although perhaps it is this very decline that has helped to preserve the old city of Aleppo, its medieval architecture and traditional heritage. Until recently, Aleppo had been experiencing a noticeable revival and was slowly returning to the spotlight. It recently won the title of the "Islamic Capital of Culture 2006", and has also witnessed a wave of successful restorations of its historic landmarks. The most significant historic buildings of the ancient city include: The Citadel, a large fortress built atop a huge, partially artificial mound rising 50 m above the city, dates back to the first millennium BC. the great Umayyad mosque, and the extraordinary souqs . The old city of Aleppo has been named a Unesco World Heritage site. less

    Trogir Croatia

    Trogir Croatia

    On the souther part of the Dalmatian coast in Croatia is Trogir a World Heritage site wit…moreOn the souther part of the Dalmatian coast in Croatia is Trogir a World Heritage site with great architecture and the feeling of having stepped right into the Renaissance. Trogir has a 2300 years of continuous urban tradition. Its culture was created under the influence of old Greeks, Romans, and Venetians. Trogir has a high concentration of palaces, churches, and towers, as well as a fortress on a small island, and in 1997 was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. "The orthogonal street plan of this island settlement dates back to the Hellenistic period and it was embellished by successive rulers with many fine public and domestic buildings and fortifications. Its beautiful Romanesque churches are complemented by the outstanding Renaissance and Baroque buildings from the Venetian period", says UNESCO report. Trogir is the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex not only in the Adriatic, but in all of Central Europe. Trogir's medieval core, surrounded by walls, comprises a preserved castle and tower and a series of dwellings and palaces from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. Trogir's grandest building is the church of St. Lawrence, whose main west portal is a masterpiece by Radovan, and the most significant work of the Romanesque-Gothic style in Croatia. less