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Everything Tastes Better in Bora Bora

Lunch at Four Seasons Bora Bora’s Tere Nui

By Beth Friedman
Your Journey By Beth
@FoodTravelrBeth

A great meal can be made even better when eating it in paradise. Take Bora Bora: just being there gives you a huge jump start on everything from romance to relaxation, and both things make everything destined to taste better. If you’ve never been to Bora Bora, it’s one of those places that you can’t leave this earth without seeing. The colors of the pristine water, the incredible resorts and of course the food gave me reason to pause several times a day to say WOW. I had a lot of memorable meals, and here’s a little run down of a few of them.

To start, what could be more dreamy than the freshest, fattiest, raw tuna presented to you with a touch of foie gras, and pea puree (below).

This amazing starter was the opening course I had a the lovely Kaina Hut restaurant on the main island. It was buttery, rich and decadent, yet still light and bright. This adorable little place is casual, fine dining that maintains it’s French Polynesian elegance even with its thatched roof and sandy floor. The main course was a grilled white fish sitting on a plantain mash with coconut foam, and while it was the ‘whitest’ dish I’d ever seen, it was absolutely delicious, texturally perfect and something I had never had before.

Another seductive meal I experienced was the incredible steak with chocolate sauce at Le Tipanié, which is the fine dining restaurant at Le Merdien Bora Bora. The meat was tender and juicy, the sauce was both bitter and sweet and the plating – gorgeous. It was a meal well suited to a romantic dinner for two.

The restaurant itself sits on the resort’s lagoon, where you can allow yourself to be mesmerized by more than just your companion. Watching the fish and sea turtles that live in the crystal clear and shallow water make this a special place to dine. And if you love sea turtles, then Le Meridien is the place for you with its famous Marine Turtle Protection Centre. The photo below was taken looking down into the water of the lagoon during daylight hours. At night, it’s lit up.

Another great hotel dining experience is St. Regis Bora Bora’s Polynesian buffet at Te Pahu, one of their four restaurants. There is so much to choose from, including suckling pig (pictured below), a ton of creative raw fish items, grilled meats and salads. The restaurant sits beachside, which in and of itself is lovely, and to top it all off, entertains with a traditional Polynesian show.

Bora Bora’s French influence is front and center at La Villa Mahan Restaurant, owned by the island’s most well-known chef, Damien Rinaldi Dovio and his family. He’s a sweetheart of a man who has amazing creativity and passion for his food and an honest desire to give his guests the best of the best. Getting a table here isn’t easy. It’s small and in high demand so make sure when you’re booking your trip, you’re working with somebody who has an in (like me!) The most desired seat in the house is a private, loft-like area that sits above the patio and offers a super romantic atmosphere (pictured below). But even the indoor dining room is interesting with hand drawn murals and artwork created by local artists and members of Dovio family.

The menu changes every few months, but it’s always French using local ingredients and earning rave reviews. I feel fortunate to have met Chef Damien and thank him for the personal tour of his restaurant. Check out the cool guitar that was hanging on the wall. To me, it summed up La Villa Mahan with its color, character and artistry. I wish I could’ve taken it home with me!

One of Bora Bora’s most famous restaurants is Bloody Mary’s, a super casual dining establishment that’s been around since the late 1970’s. It’s a giant thatch-roofed hut with a sand floor giving you a true French Polynesian vibe. You can choose from the freshest of seafood which is displayed daily, or order from their low-key menu filled with everything from chicken sandwiches to rock lobster. One of my favorite things is their charred and peppered tuna sashimi, washed down with an ice-cold Hinano, the local beer. Clearly I can’t get enough raw tuna!

Bloody Mary is famous among the famous, and you’ll hear stories about the likes of Jimmy Buffett and Ron Wood of the Rolling Stone’s coming in to play. It’s a fun place with great energy and while touristy, someplace you shouldn’t miss.

Whenever you travel, whether it be to a tropical island or a big city, and no matter how picky you might be, challenge yourself to try something that you can’t get at home. Food is fun and exciting, plays with all of your senses and allows you to taste a little bit of what life is like someplace else. So as they say in Bora Bora, “Tama’a Maita’i” (enjoy your meal, bon appetit)!

For more details about Bora Bora and the hotels and restaurants above – or if you’re interested in planning a trip, contact me anytime! And checkout my previous posting called Paradise on Earth.

Nana (goodbye in Tahitian) for now!

on Twitter @FoodTravelrBeth
Facebook: Your Journey By Beth
Email: journeybybeth@gmail.com
Email: journeybybeth@gmail.com

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Filed under exotic, food, Foodie, Fun, honeymoon, island, luxury, Paradise, Romantic, travel, tropical, Uncategorized

Food, Food & More Food Part I

By Beth Friedman
@FoodTravelrBeth

I am obsessed with food. In a former life I must have been a chef, a Jewish Grandmother or an Italian Mama because I love to cook, I LOVE to eat and I love to feed people. It’s a wonder that I don’t weigh 300 pounds because I wake up every morning wondering what my next meal will be. This is no different, and actually gets worse when I travel because to me, one of the key ingredients (forgive the pun) to a great trip is to experience the cuisine of wherever I am. Whether it be a perfect goulash in Budapest, garlicky and tender escargot with some creamy Camembert in Paris, steak or grill in Buenos Aires, pastry in Vienna, pasta in Italy, BBQ in Texas or bagels in New York City, I B-line to all of it!

My most recent trip was to Paris with my boyfriend Joe, where eating our way around the city and drinking our fair share of Sancerre was at the top of our priority list. Each day started with buttery, flakey, freshly baked croissants from a local boulangerie and eaten on the go.

While most think of fine dining, perfect plating and complex sauces in French cuisine, I learned the lesson of simplicity in food again on this trip. And it could not have been demonstrated better than at a wonderful spot called Cafe Allard, an old school bistro located in the 6th arrondissement (St. Germain). A friend who lives in Paris 50% of the time recommended it to us, and we found it appealing because it’s frequented by locals. Crowded and loud, with tables packed together, you are instantly and tightly integrated into Paris life here. When we were seated, we noticed that at the table next to us they were digging into a whole roasted and carved chicken with potatoes that smelled so good that we almost didn’t need to see the menu. But it seemed so unexciting that we tried our hand at taking a look even though we were struggling with our French. When the waiter came to take our order and we pointed at our neighbors dish to ask what it was (duh), he looked at us like we were crazy, and with a good-natured, funny expression on his face and a shrug, just said “chicken”. It was a good laugh, so we ended up going with the chicken for fear butchering the language by trying to order from the menu. This turned out to be a great decision because that simple roasted chicken was one of the best things either of us had every eaten. We were blown away by how delicious something so seemingly ordinary could be. The meat was so tender, juicy and ‘chickeny’ (is that a word?), with skin that was so perfectly crispy! I was so distracted from the very first bite, that I forgot to take a picture of it. What you see below was taken a little to late to do it justice, but those potatoes you see? Well they were unbelievable as well!

I could write all day about eating our way through Paris but instead, let’s go to Germany. On another memorable journey, this one along the Danube River with AMA Waterways (my top pick for river cruising throughout Europe), we stopped in Regansburg where we were introduced to the world’s oldest sausage stand called Wurschtla (Wurstküche ). It is said to be over 500 years old and was built to feed the workers building the original ‘Old Stone Bridge”. You can’t travel throughout this part of the world without being bombarded with each region’s variation of sausage. Sitting here at picnic tables (in December mind you), this historic food establishment serves open fire-grilled sausages that are simple, salty, fatty and crispy and placed on a bed of sauerkraut with bread. Don’t be embarrassed to order 5 all for yourself! YUM.

To take a turn to the lighter, sunnier side of food, when traveling to Tahiti and the islands of the South Pacific, you’ll find that their national dish of Poisson Cru is on almost every menu, and every household has their own recipe. It’s a ceviche of sorts, made with the freshest tuna, chopped cucumber, tomato, onion, lemon juice and freshly squeezed coconut juice. I had a lot of fun at the Four Seasons Bora Bora (a magnificent resort by the way!), where the chef held a Poisson Cru demonstration at one of their lovely restaurants, Arii Moana. Then challenged us (a group of travel agents) to compete against one another to come up with our own version. They provided some great ingredients for us to choose from and I decided to go with the fresh tuna ( a must), chopped green apple, chopped green onion, thinly sliced kumquat, a drizzle of tangerine infused olive oil, lime juice and coconut milk.

I am proud to say that I won this little competition!

When traveling it’s always fun to challenge one’s palette, so I’ll never forget my re-introduction to the anchovy. I am usually a pretty ambitious and adventurous eater, so in the past I had tried my hand at this salty little fish and HATED it. But it was a true revelation when I was coaxed into another tasting while in Ravello Italy at a hosted luncheon by the Hotel Caruso at their lovely terrace restaurant, Caruso. I wrote about this in a previous blog posting, but since it was a true culinary “a-ha” moment in my life (credit to Oprah!), I thought it was worth another mention.

My anchovy turnaround came from an interesting little ingredient called colutura, which is anchovy juice. To me anchovy juice sounds just plain gross and when the dish of spaghetti was placed in front of me and proudly described by the chef, I wanted to push it away and skip to the next course. But I didn’t want to insult our hosts, and dug in. The spaghetti was cooked perfectly, and the flavors were salty, but fresh and bright! The colutura is mixed with lemon and fruity olive oil with a touch of hot chili flakes, and it’s flavors were so different and simple that just writing about it now has me transported back to Italy. It was truly an eye-opener and a perfect example of how going outside your comfort zone in food can truly expand your horizons.

I can’t complete this posting without spending some time closer to home, so let’s go to New Orleans which is the epitome of a food lover’s fantasy. You’ve heard all of the hoopla about things like Po’ Boys, jambalaya, blackened fish, gumbo, begniets and so much more, so I’ll keep it simple here and focus on one stand out dish. I’m talking about the grilled oysters at Acme Oyster House, which is a much loved New Orleans institution that is frequented by both tourists and locals (be prepared to wait on line to get it!). Large gulf oysters, shucked and topped with melted garlic butter, lots of herbs, white wine, a dash of worcestershire sauce and Romano cheese are lined up onto the grill and cooked just until bubbly. They are completely addictive with a salty, briny, garlicky yumminess that leaves you aching for just one more. It’s another example of simplicity in food with huge flavor, texture and personality. To me they scream New Orleans on a plate.

I could write forever about all of the fun and interesting food I’ve eaten while traveling, so I’m going to keep going with another Your Journey By Beth posting about it soon. I hope that in writing about it I can encourage a few picky eaters to go outside of their culinary comfort zone. To be honest, I’m perplexed by folks who spend a lot of money and time to travel and experience far away places, then seek out Starbucks, McDonald’s and only order dishes that seem familiar to them. Traveling can be a thrill in so many ways and can appeal to all of your senses. Your taste buds are a wonderful and delicious way to learn about how other cultures nourish their bodies, their souls, their family and friends.

Stay tuned for more on food! And if you’re looking for travel tips, ideas and recommendations, you can reach me at:

Journey By Beth
310-804-6767
journeybybeth@gmail.com

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Filed under Culture, Europe, food, Foodie, Fun, Getaway, Italy, New Orleans, travel

Beth Eats Italy Part IV: The “PLACE” and the “PALACE”

If you have been following my Italian Adventure from the beginning, than welcome back to Capri! If this is your first time joining in, it is my third post about this small, but amazing island. I wouldn’t have imagined that the two short days I spent there would garner three separate blogs (and I could go on!) but that, in and of itself says something about why you should visit! If you’re getting married anytime soon, Capri and the Amalphi coast is a fantastic honeymoon destination too. I can’t think of a more seductive getaway!

If you are looking for THE best and most romantic in terms of accommodations and service there are several choices here. On this day, we visited another wonderful property called JK Place for a tour and lunch. Their charming GM showed us around this intimate hotel as though it were his home. In fact at JK Place you have the distinct feeling of being in someone’s house the moment you walk through the front door. I loved it!

Each of the 22 rooms are beautifully appointed, cozy and not pretentious, the bathrooms are to die for and very spa-like. The spa itself is lovely and opens up to the pool which is tremendous, especially considering how few guests there are at any given time. And the pièce de résistance of the day was the food at JKitchen.

After the tour we gathered in their small bar for a cocktail and some finger food. I had a Campari and OJ (it only seemed appropriate!) with mini tuna tartar tossed in basil, lemon and olive oil, mini calzones and savory zeppoli, which were salty and chewy and delicious! In anticipation of another multi-course lunch, I was forced to limit myself to one of each!

In a dining room that was reminiscent of sitting in one’s residence, we were treated to a great lunch that included pancetta wrapped white fish over a puree of rosemary potatoes (an amuse-bouche) and smoked mozzarella draped over eggplant ‘tartar” as a starter.

For the pasta course, it was hand-made fussilli with butter, garlic, parsley, shrimp, clams and mussels. The whole meal was delicious, but the star was this pasta dish. I’m typically not a huge fan of seafood with pasta (except for perfectly done linguine vongole, which in my experience is hard to find), but THIS had me doing that thing you do when your eyes close and you audibly sigh with the first bite. The shrimp was beyond sweet, and was a pink that I had never seen before. It truly was perfection on a plate.

Dessert was an array of several dreamy pastry, but to be honest, I was so full at this point, I lost the will to document it! Suffice it to say – it was all beautiful.

Back at the Capri Tiberio Palace Hotel (see Part II: Ah, Capri, for more on what was my “home” in Capri if you missed it!), with another very full stomach, I had some much-needed time to come out of my food coma, answer some emails and oh yes, head over to the Blu Mediterrean spa for another fantastic massage.

I was quickly learning on this trip that pacing myself was very important because every meal was (and would be) a marathon of very special and seductive food. That night, cocktails were planned at the famed Caesar Augustus Hotel (another wonderful hotel option in Capri), to be followed by dinner at the 2 Michelin star L’Olivio at the Capri Palace Hotel, which is another 5 diamond deluxe property.

When we arrived at the Capri Palace up in AnaCapri, we were taken to see several of their wonderfully clever accommodations including the Paltrow Suite (for Gwyneth) and the Margritte (as in René) Suite. Each have unusual private pools that reflect their namesakes and the rooms themselves were equally sexy and unique:

There are several incredible “Art” and “Star” suites to choose from along with room types that are not themed per se, but still honor this hotels dedication to beauty, comfort, style and of course, service. In fact, throughout the entire hotel, you can’t help but notice a clear appreciation for the arts and creativity.

Upon entering L’Olivio, it was clear that this feeling extended into the food! The vibe at this fine dining restaurant is incredibly comfortable given it’s luxe interior. Our party of 8 was very cozy at a huge square table which boasted cushy couches on three sides with separate armchairs on one. We were immediately served flutes of Ca ‘del Bosco Spumanti and sipped them while scanning the menu. The decision-making process was painful because there were so many unique and delicious sounding choices. After much deliberation, here’s what I had for dinner:

The duo of amuses were anchovies with ricotta (I discovered that I love anchovies after all!!), eggplant & chicory salad with bacon and a bruschetta with salt cod. Please trust me when I tell you that my descriptions hardly do justice to the reality. The bread sticks weren’t just any bread sticks and they were served with buffalo cream instead of butter or olive oil. It was all crazy good!

My first course, called the Seafood Mosaic, was one of the most imaginative and delicious plates that has ever been placed in front of me. It is exactly what it sounds like; a mosaic of 9 single bites, each a raw item where one was more mouth-watering than the next.

My pasta was spaghetti with sea urchin and white tomato juice. Anybody who knows me, knows that sea urchin is an all-time favorite, and this plate practically made me swoon.

I made sure to keep room for the main course, which was a braised veal leg scented with spices with citrus fruits and assorted veggies. All I can think of to say is “Ah”.

As a gift, I was given the most enormous cookbook I’ve ever seen called “Oliver Glowig Arte e Gusto a Capri”, which has recipes and photos of the dishes they serve at L’Olivio. It’s written in Italian of course, but even if it was in English, to replicate what their chef’s do at home in my kitchen would be a challenge to say the least. This book (all 10ish pounds of it) is a prized souvenir that I will always cherish. It wasn’t easy to it schlep all all over Italy – then home. But I’m so glad I did!

So four days into this trip and I’m guessing that I may have already gained 5 pounds! I would call that a good start! Tomorrow, we’re off to Positano and while I’m sad to say arrivederci to Capri I can’t wait!

If you’re interested in hearing more about Capri (or anywhere else for that matter) let me know! It’s my job to send people off on great adventures!

Ciao for now!
Beth

Beth@elitetravelinternational.com
journeybybeth@yahoo.com.
http://www.twitter.com/BethLovesTravel
http://www.Facebook.com/beth.friedman1

If you missed Parts I-III of Beth Eats Italy, here are the links:
Naples: https://yourjourneybybeth.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/beth-eats-italy-part-1-naples-2/
Ah, Capri: https://yourjourneybybeth.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/beth-eats-italy-part-ii-ah-capri/
More Capri: https://yourjourneybybeth.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/beth-eats-italy-part-iii-more-on-capri/

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