ASIA AT AMERISTAR CASINO AND HONEY WALNUT SHRIMP

One can gamble on any restaurant that is run by Don Yamauchi being terrific and Asia, at Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, Missouri, is a sure winner.

AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES
Don Yamauchi by Susan Manlin Katzman

Chicago born Yamauchi grew up with a love of fusion food fed by his second-generation Japanese-American father and Filipina mother. After attending culinary school, he worked in a variety of restaurants, adding French culinary skills to his repertoire and racking up awards such as “Top Ten New Chefs in America” (Food & Wine Magazine) and “Top Five Rising Chefs in America” (James Beard Society).

Ameristar Casino won big time when they hired Yamauchi as Executive chef in February of 2016.

And Yamauchi hit the jackpot the next September when he hired Hai-Ying Bushey, a native of Guagzhou China, to head the casino’s remarkable Asia restaurant.

Hai-Ying Bushey

Hai-Ying Bushey

Asia sit on the casino floor, tucked into a quiet spot behind the gaming tables. A see-through partition filled with tea sets divides the main dining room from a smaller one that can be used for a private party as needed. With a sleek, sophisticated design, Asia offers a lovely, quiet setting to showcase it’s remarkable food.

Asia Restaurant Interior
The Yamauchi-Bushey team was on a winning streak when collaborating on Asia’s menu. Part Chinese, part Vietnamese and all heavenly, the menu features dishes that look and sound familiar, but up the ante on flavor. We particularly liked:

Pot Stickers and Crab Rangoon

Pot Stickers and Crab Rangoon

 

Pho Dac Biet and Shrimp Fried Rice

Pho Dac Biet and Shrimp Fried Rice

 

Hot Chili Catfish and Sizzling Black Pepper Beef

Hot Chili Catfish and Sizzling Black Pepper Beef

 

Jumbo Seared Scallops and Hainanese Chicken

Jumbo Seared Scallops and Hainanese Chicken

 

Fluffy Ice and Coconut "Custard"

Fluffy Ice and Coconut “Custard”

and the divine

Honey Walnut Shrimp

Honey Walnut Shrimp

ASIA’S HONEY WALNUT SHRIMP

Yield: 2 to 4 servings.
Whites from two eggs
Salt
Ground white pepper
Cornstarch
Soybean oil
1 pound medium to large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Honey walnut sauce (recipe follows)
Candied walnuts (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
In a medium-size mixing bowl, lightly beat egg whites with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon white pepper. Beat in 1/4 cup cornstarch and then 1/2 cup soybean oil. Add shrimp to bowl and toss well to coat all shrimp with mixture. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Put enough soybean oil to cover shrimp in a deep fryer, wok or skillet and heat to 350°F.
Drain shrimp well and then toss with 2 cups cornstarch. Shake shrimp to remove excess cornstarch.
Drop shrimp into hot oil and fry 2 minutes. Drain shrimp and put in medium-size mixing bowl. Add honey walnut sauce and toss until shrimp is evenly coated. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with candied walnuts and green onions.

HONEY WALNUT SAUCE
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
Put all ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl and stir until well blended.

CANDIED WALNUTS
Yield: 1 cup.
1 quart water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup walnuts
About 1-1/3 cups powdered sugar
Soybean oil
Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add walnuts and blanch 20 seconds. Drain well. Put walnuts in a container with sugar. Put lid on container and shake well to evenly coat nuts with sugar.
Put enough soybean oil to cover walnuts in a deep fryer, wok or skillet and heat to 350°F. Add walnuts and fry for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread walnuts over parchment paper. Cool to room temperature. Store in an air-tight container.

Bill in Giant Fortune CookieWhen it comes to Asian restaurants, you can bet your bottom dollar that diners who hit the tables at Asia come out big winners. And as an extra stroke of luck, the bill comes in a super large, delicious fortune cookie. Win win all around.

For more information see: ameristar.com/st-charles.

Asia Open Hours

 

 

 

KANE RUM BAR AT JW MARRIOTT ISLAND BEACH RESORT MARCO ISLAND

Kane Tiki Bar and GrillYep. It’s true. I love rum. So imagine my delight discovering a rum bar at the newly refurbished and rebranded JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.
The bar is named Kane—I thought because rum is deliciously divinely made from sugar cane and drinking too much can muddle spelling, but not so. Marriott officials say that the tiki bar & grill was named for the ‘Polynesian God of Creation and Growth.” Growth of cane and creation of rum? No again. The Polynesian thrust is to honor the Indonesian-Inspired food served as snacking tidbits at the bar.
Kane stocks a numbing number of rums—around 40 on an unofficial count. And the rums come from here, there, everywhere good rum is commercially made.

Rums served at Kane
The staggering bounty could be overwhelming, but Kane helps those with high spirits for rum, but low capacity for imbibing, by offering a series of flights—ideal for exploring variety.

Rum Flights at Kane
Kane also specializes in rum-soaked cocktails.
My favorite is the Turtle Season Lights Out.

Turtle Season Lights Out
Located at the southernmost tip of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Marco Island offers much to intoxicate. Being the largest inhabited island in the Ten Thousand Island ecology, the island sports a generous amount of tourist amenities (restaurants, dolphin excursions, golf, the JW Marriott resort),

JW Marrriott Marco Island

JW Marrriott Marco Island

yet the island has a natural Island-getaway ambiance enhanced by a glorious stretch of beach with sand so white that it glistens by both sun and moon light.

Beach at JW Marriott Marco Island

The beach draws tourists by day and, at certain times of the year, turtles by night. With respect for turtle population growth, the island bans night lights during turtle season, giving the cocktail it’s name—although “lights out” could also refer to mental capabilities after downing a couple.
But rum isn’t all. Kane’s cup runneth over with delights. The open-air, A-frame, thatched-roof bar places tables on sand (shoes not required) with great views of the celebrated Marco Island sunsets.

Kane Tiki Bar and Grill

Sunset at Marco Island

With live music playing in the background; beach, sea and sunset in the foreground and rum at hand, Kane offers a perfect spot to relax to the max and enjoy the lights out—whether Island-mandated or rum-induced.

TURTLE SEASON LIGHTS OUT

Turtle Season Lights Out at Kane1 ounce Coco Lopez (cream of coconut)
1 ounce orange juice
! ounce pineapple juice
1/2 ounce Flor de Canya 5 year (or white rum)
1/2 ounce Clemente Coconut (or coconut rum)
1/2 ounce Bacardi Select (or dark rum)
1/2 ounce Wicked Dolphin (or Captain Morgan) spiced rum
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce Grenadine (recipe follows)
Crushed ice
Orchid flower (for garnish)
Pineapple leaf (for garnish)
Put all ingredients except ice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Fill a funky island glass (or collins glass) with crushed ice and stain drink over ice in glass. Garnish with orchid flower and pineapple leaf. Add a colorful straw.
KANE’S GRENADINE
Mix simple syrup with an equal amount of POM pomegranate juice.

 

 

 

 

ROSE BOWL FLEA MARKET & SUNNY CALIFORNIA CAKE

Some folks might say that Disneyland is L.A.’s top attraction, or Universal Studios, or the grand art museums, or restaurants, or beaches. Me? I love the flea markets.
Flea markets reveal the overall tone of a place. By selling collections and discards, treasures and trivia—both splendid and spent, flea markets showcase the life-styles of locals, revealing a veritable storehouse of consumer culture.

Flea Market Culture collage by Susan Manlin Katzman
L.A. flea markets provide even more than a peek at residents’ recycling magic. In addition to an opportunity to score the unique and useful, L.A. flea markets offer sunshine, look-at-me shoppers perfect for people watching, star sightings and a dribbling of super-special, straight-from- Hollywood, movie-making leftovers.

Shoppers collage by Susan Manlin Katzman
Although L.A.’s Melrose Trading Post never disappoints,

Melrose Trading Post

the blow-out-biggie of L.A. flea markets has to be the Rose Bowl Flea Market and Market Place held rain and shine the 2nd Sunday of each month in Pasadena.

Rose Bowl Flea Market by Susan Manlin Katzman
It may not be “The Greatest Flea Market on Earth,” as advertised, but it is a sensational secondhand-shopping extravaganza not duplicated elsewhere.

Rose Bowl Flea Market Find by Susan Manlin Katzman

According to brochures, the market draws about 20,000 shoppers to buy from a million items on sale from 2,500 vendors. As scope and size can stymie first-time visitors, especially tourists new to L.A., we’re listing some tips telling newbie out-of-towners what they need to know to go:

Masks at Rose Bowl Flea Market by Susan Manlin KatzmanMapQuest directions to 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena, CA 91103. Driving the freeways can be the pits for newcomers. (As an alternative to going alone, try to find a flea-market-loving L.A. friend and hitch a ride or join a tour group and leave the driving to them.)

 

Rose Bowl Parking LotKeep looking and you will find a free parking spot on one of the grassy lots edging the Rose Bowl or on the street. A handicap parking lot is near the entrance (also free). VIP parking lots closest to entrance charge a fee. Bottlenecking happens, but compared to driving the freeways, parking is a piece of cake, easy as pie.

 

Admission Tickets Rose Bowl by Susan Manlin KatzmanLine up to buy admission tickets. The line moves quickly.

 

Ticket Window at Rose Bowl Flea MarketVIP admission  (5-7 a.m.) runs $20. Early bird tickets, ( 7-8 a.m.), cost $15. Express tickets  (8-9 a.m.) ring in at $11. And general admission (9 a.m.-3 p.m when ticket sales stop), cost $9. Kids under 12 are free with an adult.

Flea Market Coral by Susan Manlin KatzmanTo find the choice pieces, dealers, decorators and the stars usually show up first thing in the morning.

 

Rose Bowl Flea Market Art Some vendors like to shop before opening their own stands, grabbing early bird bargains in the morning and reselling the items for a profit later in the day. This means that not all vendors are set up before 9 a.m.

Hollywood for Sale at Rose Bowl by Susan Manlin KatzmanBargain hunters do well after 3 p.m. when vendors start to break down their stands and sell items cheaply rather than  tote them home. The public can shop until 4:30 p.m.

 

 

Seeking Shade at Rose Bowl Flea Market by Susan Manlin KatzmanDress for the sun and space. Wear sunscreen and a hat, or carry a sun umbrella (can buy both hat and umbrella on the spot). Keep shoes comfortable. Mornings can be chilly—afternoons, blazing.

 

Rose Bowl Flea Market Find by Susan Manln KatzmanBring your own water; vendors sell water, but at an inflated price.

 

 

ATMs at Rose Bowl Flea Market by Susan Manlin Katzman

 

Bring cash. ATMs are located on site, but charges apply.

 

 

 

 

Pick up a map when you walk in door. Head first to the areas that most appeal. Chances are you’ll cave before walking all seven miles of aisles. Shop til you drop is not a cliché at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

Map of Rose Bowl Flea Market
Oddities at Rose Bowl Flea Market by Susan Manlin KatzmanMerchandise prices vary from ridiculously low to unreasonably high. I picked up a small green plastic buddha. Saw that it was marked 80. Thought it was 80 cents. The vender said $80. I don’t think he was joking. On the other hand, I bought four charming desert plates for $2.50 and a vintage dress and three cashmere sweaters for total of $15 dollars. (I know the black turtle neck must have belonged to Marilyn Monroe as it was from her era and looked just like her. What a score!)

 

Vintage Jewelry by Susan Manlin KatzmanBargaining works, but be California laid-back, friendly and polite.

 

 

 

 

 

Just for Pets by Susan Manlin KatzmanNo pets allowed.
Cart cartsMany vendors will let you purchase an item and will hold it for you until you finish shopping—if you can find them again. You can buy rolling carts on site.

 

 

 

 

 

Food and drink concessions polka dot the market. (The $5 slushy Freshers lemonade is worth it!)

Collage of Food at Rose Bowl Flea Market by Susan Manlin Katzman

 

As 20,000 visitors can’t be wrong—join the throng, have fun, treasure hunt. I’ll join you—every second Sunday rain or shine (mostly shine).

Now here’s a recipe for a cake perfect to serve on my new/old plates. The recipe comes from Carol Gray, a marvelous L.A. cook and flea market aficionado.

Carol Gray's Sunny California Cake by Susan Manlin Katzman

CAROL GRAY’S SUNNY CALIFORNIA CAKE

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Butter to grease cake panCarol Gray's Sunny California Cake by Susan Manlin Katzman
1-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
Lemon curl for garnish
Sweetened whipped cream for serving.

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter a 9-inch, deep (should be 2-inches high), cake pan.
Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Set pan aside.
Put powdered sugar in a small bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
Add more lemon juice, a little at a time, if necessary to make a smooth
thin glaze; set glaze aside.
Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl;
stir to blend. Put buttermilk, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla in small bowl
and whisk to blend. Pour buttermilk mixture and melted butter into flour
mixture; fold gently with a spatula until just blended. Spread batter
evenly in prepared pan.
Set pan in preheated 350°F oven and bake until cake pulls away from
sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30
minutes.
Remove cake from oven and immediately run a knife around edge of
pan. Put a rack on top of cake and invert cake onto rack. Remove pan.
Place another rack on top of cake and invert again so that cake top is top
side up. Immediately stir lemon glaze, adding more juice if glaze is too
thick to spread.
Spread glaze over top of cake coming within 1/2-inch of edge. Set cake
aside to cool completely.
Before serving, garnish center of cake with a lemon curl.
Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

 

 

RESTAURANTE SOBRINO DE BOTÍN & GARLIC SOUP

What do Ernest Hemingway, Francisco de Goya, Nancy Reagan, the King of Spain, Jack Nicholson, a Belgian diplomat, a Japanese engineer and a dentist from Ohio have in common?

Will give you a hint: Madrid.
And another: the oldest restaurant in the world.
Along with countless writers, artists, heads of state, celebrities and tourists, the above have dined at Restaurante Sobrino de Botín, Madrid’s most famous restaurant.

IMG_3695
A French cook, Jean Botín, first opened Casa Botín in 1725. When the cook and his wife died, a nephew took over accounting for the name change to Sobrino de Botín (Nephew of Botín). The restaurant sold to the González family in the 20th century. Despite surviving13 monarchs, two World Wars, and a slew of nasty coups and uprisings, the two families kept Restaurante Sobrino de Botín thriving through the centuries.

José González Gozalbo

José González Gozalbo

The Guinness Book of World Records lists Sobrino de Botín as the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world.

Botín still occupies its original space on Calle Cuchilleros (aptly translated cutlery street) in the heart of medieval Madrid, a few steps from Plaza Mayor. And the restaurant still cooks in its original wood burning stove and still serves traditional Castilian food to throngs of admiring diners.

Original Oven at Botín by Susan Manlin Katzman

Dining at Botín. Collage by Susan Manlin Katzman

The restaurant’s four floors, creaky wood stairs, ceiling beams, tile floors, white table cloths, stone walls, old paintings, award plaques, cobwebbed cellar, and musty, smokey garlic scent handed down through the centuries, add to the ancient tavern ambiance,

Collage of Wine at Botín by Susan Manlin Katzman

Collage of Decor at Botín by Susan Manlin Katzman

but the dining experience is not just about participating in history.
Botín’s food is unbeatable.
The must-order dish remains cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig) with a runner up of of cordero asado (roast lamb).

Roast Suckling Pig at Botín by Susan Manlin Katzman
Botín gets their pigs from Segovia and roasts them in the restaurant’s original oven until the skin turns crispy crunchy golden brown locking in the meats rich succulent tenderness.
Old-style Castilian specialties supplement the roasted meats, with sopa de ajo castellana con huevo (garlic soup with egg) a most popular starter.

CASA BOTÍN’S GARLIC SOUP

Unknown

Yield: 4 servings.
About 1/4 cup olive oil
4 to 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
About 2-12 ounces Serrano ham, slivered
2 to 3 crusty white day old bread rolls, cut into 1/4-inch thick chunks (about 3 cups chunks)
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
Salt to taste
4 cups hot water
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cover the bottom of a medium skillet with olive oil and put over high heat. When the oil is hot, add garlic. Fry about 30 seconds then add ham. Fry another 30 seconds and add bread. Sauté, tossing with a spatula until bread absorbs the oil and light golden brown. Sprinkle with paprika and salt. Toss well. Add the hot water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil 5 minutes to release and blend flavors.
Divide the soup among four heat proof bowls. Break an egg on top of soup in each bowl. Place bowls in the preheated 375°F oven and bake until egg is set, about 5 minutes.
Serve immediately.

For more information about Botín click HERE.

Pig Head at Botín by Susan Manlin Katzman

 

 

 

SABI SABI-SAFARIS AND LODGES

Taking a photographic safari in South Africa is a once in a lifetime experience, especially if the safari is connected to Sabi Sabi, a private Game Reserve adjoining South Africa’s massive Kruger National Park.
Climb onto a land rover

Boarded on a Land Rover Ready for Safari

and head into the sandy landscape on a Sabi Sabi safari and a zoo’s worth of wildlife will wander by your camera lens.

 

Lions sleep near dusty roads.

Sleeping Lion by Susan Manlin Katzman

 

Giraffes graze on leaves growing on gnarly trees.

Giraffes Graze at Sabi Sabi by Susan Manlin Katzman

 

Elephants guide their young through the shrubby bush.

Elephant Family by Susan Manlin Katzman

 

Leopards come so close that one can smell their musty scent.

Leopard at Sabi Sabi by Susan Manlin Katzman

 

The sightings are so abundant, that one could think Sabi Sabi is a theme park designed by Disney, but to the contrary—all is real, wild, exciting and exhilarating.

Abundant Animal Sightings at Saba Sabi by Susan Manlin KatzmanAnimals at Sabi Sabi
The Big Five (the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot) crisscross the land unencumbered by fences and thousands of other species thrive in the protected African environment—all to the benefit of tourists seeking to see and photograph wildlife in its glorious natural habitat.

At Sabi Sabi
But Sabi Sabi isn’t just about the wild and feral. One takes safaris from a base of the reserve’s four highly civilized places to stay.
Each property in the Sabi Sabi luxury lodge collection offers similar amenities, including gracious suites, fabulous safaris, and luscious food (see recipe below) and drink.

Food and Drink at Sabi Sabi

 

Designed to fit into a “yesterday, today and tomorrow” marketing theme, the four safari properties differ most in size, décor and price.
The eight-thatched suites of Selati Camp sport romantic, historic railway decor and fit the “yesterday” theme. The six luxury suites in Little Bush Camp, and the 25 air-conditioned, kid-friendly suites at Bush Lodge represent the best of “today’s” safari lodging. And the 13-suite Earth Lodge thrusts visitors into “tomorrow.”

Bush Lodge

Bush Lodge

I stayed at Earth Lodge and although I am a writer, I have a hard time summarizing the magnificence of the experience.

Earth Lodge Sign
Earth Lodge is a work of architectural genius—a completely contemporary masterpiece built to make the least impact on it’s landscape. One can be at the front entrance and not see evidence of any building.

Entrance to Earth Lodge

Entrance to Earth Lodge

Earth Lodge has been described as “the most environmentally sensitive lodge in Africa.” I would say it is also the most dazzling—but then again, I was upgraded to Earth Lodge’s Amber Presidential Suite, so I am basing my opinion on unmatched glory.

Exterior of the Amber Suite

Exterior of the Amber Suite

Sculpted tree trunks weave into the Amber Suite’s dining room table, sideboards and bedroom headboard. Huge African beads, hanging on thick threads, accessorize each room. The egg-shaped bathtub overlooks the bush where one can submerge in a bubble bath and watch for animals coming to drink at the suite’s outdoor plunge pool.

Interior of the Amber Suite

Interior of the Amber Suite

Although the Amber Suite sits in a class all it’s own, the whole of Earth Lodge is a live-in work of art.
Individual suites are sculpted into the landscape as if absorbed by the environment.
Art from natural materials decorate the lodge’s open-air main building housing the reception desk, dining areas, bar, boutique and lounges.

Artistic touches at Earth Lodge

Artistic touches at Earth Lodge

Creativity, environmental savvy and a pampering staff

Cooks and Guides

Cooks and Guides

elevate Earth Lodge to a special stratosphere that is nature focused and utterly glamorous, totally natural and engagingly sophisticated.
Although Earth Lodge receives the lion’s share of my accolades, the other Sabi Sabi lodges offer exceedingly comfortable stays. Combine a choice of fine accommodations with safaris showcasing a lavish amount of wildlife and Sabi Sabi ranks as an unbeatable destination for travelers wanting both beauty and the beasts.

EARTH LODGE’S POTATO GNOCCHI 

 

Gnocchi and Pomodoro Sauce by Susan Manlin Katzman

Yield: Serves 12 as first course or 6 as an entree.

Make gnocchi:
Coarse salt
4 russet potatoes
1 large clove garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
Salt
Pepper
About 3/4 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Sprinkle salt over the bottom of a roasting pan. Set potatoes on salt. Put in 350°F oven and bake 40 minutes. Prick potatoes with a fork and continue baking until potatoes are fully cooked and “dry,” about 20 minutes more. Meanwhile,
set garlic on a piece of foil and roast in the same oven until soft and tender, about 20 minutes.
Cut potatoes in half and scoop flesh into a mixing bowl. Peel garlic and add to potatoes. Mash potatoes and garlic with butter until mixture is smooth. When cool enough to handle, stir egg into potatoes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Stir in about 1/4 cup flour. Mix well. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a dough that is firm, but not wet nor crumbly.
Divide dough into four portions. Put each portion on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll tightly into a log about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Tie plastic securely at both ends of log.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat. Add plastic coated logs to water and simmer for 1 hour.
Gently remove logs from water and set aside to cool. When cool, refrigerate until firm.

Make pomodoro sauce:
Yield: About 2-3/4 cup sauce.
Olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
3 cloves
10 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced (or 1 ( 28-ounce) can whole peel tomatoes, diced)
About 10 basil leaves, slivered
Salt and pepper to taste
Put 2 to 3 tablespoons oil in the bottom of a large saucepan and set over medium heat. When oil is hot add onion. Sauté, stirring often, until onion is translucent and just beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaves and cloves; sauté, stirring often for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice to saucepan along with basil. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer mixture, stirring often, 40 minutes. Remove bay leaves and cloves. Season to taste.
If a smooth sauce is desired, let sauce cool slightly, puree in a blender or food processor and then pass through a sieve.

To finish and serve:
Butter
Fresh herbs for garnish
Remove plastic from gnocchi logs and cut each log into 1/2- to 3/4- inch thick rounds.
Melt butter in a large frying pan and sauté gnocchi rounds in butter until beautifully browned.
Put several spoonfuls of sauce in the bottom of large shallow bowls. Top with gnocchi rounds. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve immediately.

 

Sunrise/Sunset-All is Perfect at Earth Lodge

For more Sabi Sabi information: http://www.sabisabi.com.

To customize a Steppes Travel tour:  http://www.steppestravel.co.uk

 

 

LES COCOTTES DE CHRISTIAN CONSTANT

It’s chic and cheap by Paris standards, but those aren’t the only draws. Celebrity chef Christian Constant’s newish baby bistro, Les Cocottes de Christian Constant, serves casual and creative casseroles popular with locals as well as tourists from around the world.

Les Cocottes de Christian Constant Tour Eiffel by Susan Manlin Katzman
Located in Paris’ tony 7th arrondissement, at 135 rue Saint-Dominique, the small restaurant offers casual counter service and some high tables, often shared.

Counter and High Tables at Les Cocottes by Susan Manlin Katzman
The menu limits choices to a few salads, soups and verrines (succulent small dishes served in glass jars); several starters (such as country style pate);

Country-style pate at Les Cocottes by Susan Manlin Katzman

and an array of desserts.

Main courses take the form of cocottes, or inspirational one-dish casserole combinations, attractively served in small cast iron pots (cocottes), which are manufactured by the French company Staub.

Dishes at Les Cocottes served in Staub Cocottes by Susan Manlin Katzman
Chef Philippe Cadeau and his capable staff change menu items frequently and daily chef’s recommendations are a must…then…again…so is everything else.

Philippe Cadeau (center) and Staff

Philippe Cadeau (center) and Staff

Wine Served with a Smile at Les Cocottes

 

Order wine by the bottle (short list) or carafe or glass—the later served by tap.

To avoid long waits, show up either quite early (at the beginning of service) or quite late (as service winds down).

Unless things have recently changed, Les Cocottes does not take reservations and the place fills fast.

In addition to good food, drinkable wine and a fun dining experience,
the restaurant sells a variety of products including Staub cocottes, logo wine glasses and Christian Constant’s cookbooks, from which I copied, for you, a recipe for Les Cocottes signature dessert: la fabuleuse tarte au chocolat de Christian Constant.

 

 

 

CHRISTIAN CONSTANT’S FABULOUS CHOCOLATE TART

The Fabulous Christian Constant Chocolate Tart served at Les Cocottes by Susan Manlin Katzman

Recipe for Christian Constant's Fabulous Chocolate Tart

As to lagniappe, the Eiffel Tower sits just around the corner from Les Cocottes and provides magnificent scenery for after dinner stroll.

Eiffel Tower from the Seine River by Susan Manlin Katzman

 

 

 

YELLOWSTONE, ROOSEVELT LODGE, ROOSEVELT BEANS

Yellowstone Park sign by Susan Manlin KatzmanThe park is packed. Yellowstone National Park hosts about four million visitors a year with numbers swelling in July and August. Most people book lodging about a year in advance and make their dinner reservations well before arriving. Although not impossible, last minute reservations are rare, however most park restaurants have a first come, first served policy at breakfast and lunch allowing those without reservations to savor top eating spots.
For several reasons my favorite place in the park for lunch is the Roosevelt Lodge.
Roosevelt Lodge

Located in an Historic District at the northern part of the park, The Roosevelt Lodge and Cabins complex feels remarkably uncrowded.
The setting supports a feeling of serenity. Mountains sit at the back, a sage-brush filled meadow graces the front, streams trickle through and a surrounding pine forest not only shades the property but also deliciously scents the air.

Roosevelt Lodge Surroundings

Without crowds of fellow travelers, one can hear horses neighing in the background and birds chirping above. The attitude is that of a summer camp or dude ranch or gentle Western frontier town.
Built in 1919/1920 near a site where Yellowstone enthusiast President Teddy Roosevelt once camped, the property contains a grouping of individual wood cabins—all rustic and sparsely furnished.

Cabins at Roosevelt Lodge

The more expensive “Frontier Cabins” include shower, toilet and sink while the bare-bones “Roughrider Cabins” are heated with wood burning stoves and share “facilities” a short walk away.

Cabin at Roosevelt Lodge
In addition to cabins, the property sports a general store,

General Store at Roosevelt Lodge by Susan Manlin Katzman

a corral complex offering horseback and stagecoach rides

Corral at Roosevelt Lodge

and a log-lodge with with gift shop, bar, front porch and restaurant.

Porch at Roosevelt Lodge

Although the porch offers an ideal place to relax while waiting for a table if the restaurant is full—or recoup after a meal if you are full, it is the lodge restaurant, with its unpeeled log posts, copper light fixtures, great stone fireplace and luscious food that lassos my heart.

Roosevelt Lodge Dining Room
Branded with a hodgepodge of popular as well as unfamiliar dishes, the lunch menu include such specialities as barbecue ribs, wild game chili, bison burgers and linguine topped with bison and elk bolognese.

Dishes at Roosevelt Lodge Dining Room

 

The dinner menu ups the ante to offer all lunch items as well as a broader variety of chicken, fish and beef dishes and the Lodge takes it’s good food on the road by rustling up Old West Dinner Cookouts in a remote setting reachable by horseback and stagecoach.
Justly famous, Roosevelt Beans show up on all Roosevelt Lodge menus. The beans are the favorite dish served at the Lodge and probably the post popular in the park itself. Wrangle up a batch with the following recipe and you will understand the hoopla. The dish will win raves whether served in Yellowstone or your own home on the range.

ROOSEVELT BEANS

Yield: 8 to 12 servingsRoosevelt Beans by Susan Manlin Katzman
8 ounces ground beef or sausage
8 ounces bacon, diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 can (16 ounces) pork and beans
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans
1 can (15 ounces) lima beans (see Note)
1 can (15 ounces) butter beans (see Note)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Put beef or sausage and bacon in a large skillet. Set over high heat and cook, stirring frequently until meat looses it’s red color. Drain excess fat from pan. Add onion and continue cooking, stirring often, until meat browns. Stir in remaining ingredients.
Bake in a preheated 325°F oven for 45 minutes or simmer on low heat for one hour.

NOTE: For a thicker dish, drain lima and butter beans before using.

 

 

LIZ’S WHERE Y’AT DINER & GREAT GRITS

Liz Munson

Liz Munson

Who serves the best grits in the United States?
This is a rhetorical question because I know the answer. It’s Liz Munson at Liz’s Where Y’at Diner in Mandeville, Louisiana.

Where Y'at Diner Sign by Susan Manlin Katzman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the other hand, everything served at Liz’s is special—not just the grits.
I love the biscuits & debris,

Biscuits & Debris by Susan Manlin Katzman
the overloaded chocolate-rich waffle,

Chocolate Waffle by Susan Manlin Katzman
the scrambles and the Where y’at Bennies (Eggs Benedict and Benedict derivatives ).

Bennies at Liz's Where Y'at Diner
Oh Lordy, Liz’s breakfasts are heavenly.
Lunches rank high too.
Liz Munson spreads joy—and not just with food. Her diner’s quirky colorful decor shouts happiness.

Eat Good Food and Share

 

Her mottos, plastered here, there, everywhere tout love.

Peace and Love to All Who Enter

Love Mottos

 

Her friendly waitresses wear hearts on their chests.

Waitress at Liz's With Tray of Delights

Her vivid extravagant Southern-style hospitality brings smiles to all lucky enough to step into her sunshine.
“Come in and see me. Where Y’at, Baby!,” Liz writes on her menu, beaconing the crowds who show up Monday through Friday starting at 6 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 7 a.m. for breakfast, brunch and lunch, to fill tables until closing at 2 p.m. each day.

Menu

 

But back to the nitty gritty of grits. I lked Liz’s so much that I asked for her recipe.

”Here ya go, baby,” she replied. “It’s pretty complicated….lol.”

LIZ’S CREAMY GRITS

 

Creamy Grits from Liz Munson

(from Liz Munson at Liz’s Where Y’at Diner)  Decor at Liz's Where Y'at Diner by Susan Manlin Katzman
1 cup of grits
1 cup of water
1 stick of butter
Salt to taste
1/2 & 1/2 to your liking { the more the creamier}
Everything in a pot bring to a boil stirring constantly.
Cook on low heat til creamy creamy.
There ya go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANSE CHASTANET, SAINT LUCIA, THE BENTLEY

Like gorgeous sisters, Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain share similar traits. Both resorts are located on the same mountainous hill overlooking the Caribbean Sea in the Soufriere area of south Saint Lucia. Both resorts are owned and operated by the talented Troubetzkoy family. And both resorts offer guests wonderful accommodations with a variety of luxurious amenities, not the least being the world’s most perfect views of the famous Pitons (the mountainous volcanic plugs that dramatically rise from the sea and stand as an icon of Saint Lucia).

Saint Lucia's Pitons by Susan Manlin Katzman
Anse Chastanet ResortBut like all sisters, the resorts differ in personality.
The first born Anse Chastanet rises up from the beach on the 600 acre estate and covers the lower portion of the mini mountain. Architect Nick Troubetzkoy designed his second brainchild, Jade Mountain, on the upper half. Anse Chastanet is the fun-loving, good-time sister; Jade Mountain, the elegant, reserved one. Jade Mountain guests can use Anse Chastanet’s facilities, but not visa versa. Jade Mountain is both literally and figuratively a bit above it all.
In this case “it all” means the stunning attributes of Anse Chastanet which include:
Two soft sand beaches. The gentle Anse Chastanet beach with the best snorkeling and scuba diving in Saint Lucia just off shore and the secluded Anse Mamin beach (accessible by short coastal walk and/or water shuttle).

Anse Chastenet Beach Collage by Susan Manlin Katzman

Anse Chastenet Beach

 

Anse Mamin Beach

Anse Mamin Beach

The Anse Chastanet beach is lined with some of Anse Chastanet’s facilities, including the Spa Kai Belte, an art gallery, two boutiques, scuba, snorkeling and water sports centers as well as beachside restaurants and bars.

Spa and Art Center at Anse Chastanet

Boutiques at Anse Castanet by Susan Manlin Katzman

Scuba St. Lucia Collage by Susan Manlin Katzman
As to the restaurants, guests enjoy a cornucopia of choice when it comes to where and what to eat at Anse Chastanet. Restaurants sit on both beaches and dot the hillside. Intimate private dining can be arranged at the water’s edge, in rooms and in the secluded spa cottage overlooking the sea.
Luscious culinary options included East Indian fare (at Apsara); vegetarian specialties (at all restaurants but particularly the vegetarian-only Emerald’s);

Emerald's

Emerald’s

Caribbean and international delights (at both the open-air Treehouse restaurant and the lovely Trou au Diable); and grilled favorites (at both the Beach Grill on Anse Castanet beach and the Jungle Grill at Anse Mamin beach).

Trou au Diable

Trou au Diable

 

Jungle Grill

Jungle Grill

Anse Chastanet’s 49 guest rooms both line the beach in a tropical garden and occupy individual cottages climbing up the hill.

Cottages at Anse Chastanet
The resort lacks air conditioning, televisions and radios. If desired, guests can use the library, Wifi and a guest computer located in the Piti Piton Bar, a large, breezy, open-air room overlooking the sea.

Piti Piton Bar at Anse Chastanet Collage by Susan Manlin Katzman

 

Cooking Class with Elijah Jules

Cooking Class with Elijah Jules

Country Music Star L. M. Stone

Country Music Star L. M. Stone

Resort programs abound. Some with charges attached (snorkeling lessons and marine biology classes, guided birdwatching, cooking classes, sailing, scuba excursions) and others are complimentary (creole history class, guided walks and hikes on the estate, yoga, tennis, and chocolate tasting). I particularly liked the nightly live music entertainments (from steel band to country western singer), but my personal favorite complimentary activity was a mixology class held on a Sunday afternoon in the Beach Bar.

The class included a tasting of not only Saint Lucian rums and a variety of canapés, but also five different rum cocktails.

Rum and Canapés at Anse Chastanet

 

Innocence by Susan Manlin Katzman

Innocence

Ironically, a bartender named Innocence led the class and his cocktails were so rum soaked that enough of any one of them could easily strip the drinker of all innocence. My favorite was The Bentley, which is served at Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain as a welcome drink as well as a cocktail.

 

 

 

THE BENTLEY

Yield: 4 servings. The Bentley Welcome drink

4 to 5 ounces Crystal rum (can substitute Bacardi)
3 ounces lime juice
About 3 ounces brown sugar syrup (recipe follows)
About 1 cup soda water
Grenadine
Ice
4 sugar cane swizzle sticks, optional

The Bentley by Susan Manlin KatzmanPut rum, lime juice, sugar syrup and club soda in a pitcher or cocktail shaker. Stir to combine ingredients. Pour mixture over ice into four glasses. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons Grenadine to each glass—just enough to turn drink a pleasing pink. Garnish each glass with a sugar cane swizzle stick, if desired.

BROWN SUGAR SYRUP
Yield: About 7 ounces.
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
Put sugar and water in a jar and stir until sugar dissolves. Set aside at least 15 minutes. Store in jar but always wipe edge of jar after using.

 

Sign at Anse Chastanet By Susan Manlin Katzman

 

 

 

JADE MOUNTAIN SAINT LUCIA & DEATH BY CHOCOLATE

Jade Mountain Saint Lucia by S.M. KatzmanWhat can I say about Jade Mountain in Saint Lucia that hasn’t already been said. Readers of travel magazines know the resort has been called the best in the Caribbean as well as one of the three top in the world. Devotees of luxury know Jade Mountain is over the top in terms of service and amenities. Lovers of architecture know that owner/architect, Nick Troubetzkoy, designed a masterpiece—as unique in the world of hospitality as it is dramatic.

Jade Mountain (brown) sits above Anse Chastanet (green)

Jade Mountain (brown) sits above Anse Chastanet (green)

Perhaps what is not known, is that the incredibly luscious resort sits on a verdent mountanious hill above it’s sister resort, Anse Chastanet, with whom it shares facilities, and there is not one elevator, escalator, funicular on property. Guests must climb heart-panting flights just to reach the nearest restaurant or the shuttle that twists and turns down a narrow road to the beach. Those not in tip-top shape could find the exercise taxing (just to mention one drawback to keep the gods from getting jealous before I tell you of the glories).

As to the heavenly, Troubetzkoy designed Jade Mountains infinity pool sanctuaries (aka rooms), to maximize views. Each sanctuary is unique in design and decor. Like most, mine (JC2) had only three walls. The fourth is open air fronted by an infinity pool that seems to stretch into the Caribbean. I am willing to bet that photographers head to my sanctuary when they are snapping pictures for postcards of Saint Lucia’s ionic World Heritage Site Pitons—the two iconic mountains (volcanic spires) thrusting up from the sea.

Room with a view.

Room with a view.

My sanctuary’s bathroom, up a short flight of stairs, is also open air and packed with amenities such as duel sinks, a whirlpool tub big enough for two, and a shower spraying water water everywhere.

Bathroom at Jade Mountain Collage

 

Major Domo at Jade MountainRooms lack air-conditioning, TVs, radios and telephones, but do have Major Domos (aka butlers) on call 24/7 to see to every need. Right after offering a welcome drink, your Major Domo hands you a cell phone embedded with his number. Want something, just call. Major Domos see to everything: arranging sightseeing, making restaurant reservations, packing and unpacking. If you are at the beach and forgot your suntan lotion, a Major Domo will bring it to you. Major Domos run bubble baths. They bring you chocolates, cocktails and afternoon tea. Major Domos ruin life forever after.

One never has to leave the sanctuary as room service sends luscious meals, the spa sends therapists for massages and the Major Domos bring everything else. But if desired guests can enjoy both Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet facilities which include two glorious beaches, spas, tennis courts, boutiques, a variety of water activities and a luscious choice of restaurants and bars.

 

 

Hard as it was, I did leave my sanctuary on several occasions. I headed to the beach, of course,

Anse Mamin Beach

 

and to the divine Jade Mountain Club restaurant for some magical meals.

Jade Mountain Club Collage

 

I enjoyed a heavenly “Chocolate Delight” massage in Jade Mountain’s spa, Kai en Ciel (translates house in heaven). Masseuse Kayla Augustin used fragrant chocolate-based body products for the massage and, instead of tea that is served at oh so ordinary spas, brought a plate of chocolates after the massage. Rapture! Exaltation!

Jade Mountain Spa

And I also left the room for a few resort-organized activities, including a trip to Emerald Estate—the resort’s organic farm.

Emerald Estates College by Susan Manlin Katzman

Talk about farm-to-table perfection, this farm produces an Eden’s worth of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices that are used at both at Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet. I toured the tropical paradise with three men who totally captured my culinary heart.

From L to Right: Elijah Jules, chef de cuisine at Jade Mountain (and cooking teacher at Emerald Estates); horticulturalist Pawan Srivastava, Emerald Estates manager; and Stefan Goehcke, executive chef of the whole shebang.

From L to Right: Elijah Jules, chef de cuisine at Jade Mountain (and cooking teacher at Emerald Estates); horticulturalist Pawan Srivastava, Emerald Estates manager; and Stefan Goehcke, executive chef of the whole shebang.

Over 2000 cocoa trees on the resorts’ property produces cocoa beans that are turned into chocolate in Jade Mountain’s Chocolate Laboratory. The lab crafts single estate organic chocolate bars for sale in the resorts’ boutiques, produces pralines to put in guest rooms and fashions chocolate into a variety of sumptuous dishes for the restaurants.

Chocolate at Jade Mountain

The Death by Chocolate recipe below comes from the Jade Mountain’s chocolate menu used at one of Saint Lucia’s chocolate festivals.
I don’t know if the drink/sundae classifies as a cocktail or dessert. I do know that it is unusual and absolutely ambrosial—as is Jade Mountain itself.

 

DEATH BY CHOCOLATE

Death by Chocolate by S.M. KatzmanYield: 1 serving.

2 large scoops dark, rich, chocolate ice cream
Chocolate syrup
1 ounce coffee liquor
1 ounce dark creme de cacao
1 ounce vodka
Whipped cream

Put ice cream in a large glass.
Drizzle with chocolate syrup.
Pour coffee liquor, creme de cacao and vodka over syrup.
Top with whipped cream.
Drizzle chocolate syrup over whipped cream.

 

Jade Mountain Sign and Sculpture