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Halloween, as we know it today, is an American tradition, but it actually originated in Ireland.

It was the celebration of, “Samhain”, the transition between summer and winter. The Celtic people felt that October 31st was a time to honor the dead and try to communicate with beloved ones that died.

During the period when the Catholic Church coerced the Celtics into Christianity, it combined it with “All Saints Day” (November 1st) but also heavily encouraged prayer and religious festivities the night before.

So October 31st previously known as “Samhain”, became “All Hallows Eve”. The church even supported “All Hallows Eve” by including it on all calendars, which increased the number of people celebrating it, and soon it became a holiday commonly referred to as Halloween.

Halloween came to America only in the 1800’s, when Ireland suffered many potato famines, and Irish Catholics came to the country. Their traditions changed to accommodate their new land, so the turnips that were used for lanterns became pumpkins and evolved as a “Jack-O-Lantern.”

Halloween became very popular during the 20’s, when American cities began sponsoring costume parties and parades. Finally in the 30’s Halloween became one distinct holiday.

It was first only an adult holiday, but after World War II ended, the population exploded with the “Baby-Boom”, and the holiday extended to children.

In the 90s, “Baby-Boom” children became parents and have truly embraced Halloween. This holiday became one of the most popular holidays in America.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Now that we know the origins of Halloween. Let’s talk about what it became today.

You will think Halloween became a children holiday, where they go from house to house, to “trick or treat” and collect candies.

In the States, adults get a kick out of it, as well. They love to get dressed and party. Besides few people who gets scary or funny costumes, most of the women get sexy ones.

So every Halloween, women fight to find the sexiest costume. The streets are full of slutty nurses, slutty police officers, slutty witch, and slutty pirates. Name the costume and they will make a sexy version.

I personally don’t like to dress up, so when I am in NY, my friends have to drag me to buy a costume. First I thought it was sweet that everybody wanted to get dressed up. Then I understood why it is such a big holiday. Halloween is simply a one night stand holiday without the remorse (as you are dressed up as someone else).

I have to admit the biggest pleasure is to sit at a coffee shop the following morning, and watch all the walk of shames. The sexy bumbling bee walking without one wing and broken antennas or the slutty baby who looks like crashed baby with her make up half gone…

So tell me who regrets most last night?
The kids who ate way too much candy and have stomach aches?
Or adults who drank too much with a massive hangover and basically don’t remember the end of their night?!?!

I am so luck to be in Europe where Halloween isn’t really celebrated, I spent my night on my couch watching TV ;)

Ai Fiori, one of my new favorite restaurants in NYC

On my last visit to New York, I have decided to list of restaurants I had to try. Ai Fiori was on top of that list.

I know the chef Michael White’s other restaurants in the city. Marea, a Relais Chateau, is an Italian seafood restaurant. Osteria Morini in Soho is more casual and serves rustic Italian food.

Ai Fiori, located on the second floor of Setai Hotel, is again Italian food.

As usual, I arrived early, so I could check the surroundings. While waiting for my friends at the bar, I had the pleasure to meet the chef and owner Michael White.

I asked him, which dish I should not miss; he obviously told me everything is yummy, but pointed out the seafood dishes (the branzino and the trofie nero)

When my friends arrived, we have decided to get several appetizers and main courses to share, so we could have an idea of the menu.

We have started with the crudo di Passera (fluke crudo, American sturgeon caviar, meyer lemon), the Insalata di Barbabieto (roasted beet salad, Greek yogurt, pine nuts, apples), the Trofie Nero (Ligurian crustacean ragoût, seppia, scallops, spiced mollica), and the Spaghetti with blue crab, lemon, bottarga, chilies.


Then we continued with the Insalata di Astice (nova scotia lobster salad, charred corn, trumpet royale mushrooms, ricotta salata), the Branzino (pan seared mediterranean sea bass, sea beans, almond, sauce meunière), and the Tagliata (prime dry aged strip loin, chanterelles, smoked potato, bordelaise).

What can I say? Every dish was an explosion of flavor. I still dream about every single dish. They all had the perfect balance of taste and playfulness.

Besides the food, the service was amazing and seeing the Chef wondering in the dining room, always makes you feel privileged. Normally you need to eat at the chef’s table in the kitchen or ask them to go to the kitchen to meet the chef. And most of the time, the chef is not there as they all have sous-chefs taking care of their menu.

I learned from my new friend, the bartender that Michael White loves wondering in all his restaurants and make sure the kitchen sends the right food and the clients are happy.

That must be a job in itself when u think that his restaurants all over nyc, lol.

I can finally cross Ai Fiori from ”my to taste restaurant list” and move it to “my favorite restaurant list”. I advise all of you to try it and let me know what you think 

Cipriani opened its first restaurant in 1931 in Venice. Over the years, this exclusive restaurant opened all over the world. One of the latest location happens to be in Yalikavak, few kilometers from Bodrum and Turkbuku.

Located in Palmarina Bodrum, Cipriani quickly became the place to go this summer. The good news, Billionaire club is just located next to Cipriani.

So you can definitely make an unbelievable night out of it.

During my last mission with my Angels in Turkbuku, we decided that we had to try it.
Believe me; it was not easy to get a table. We first tried to use all our connections in Turkey, when it didn’t happen; I decided to make the next intelligent move: pass by Cipriani NY.
Thanks to my friend Ring Ding and the connections, we managed to get a table on a Saturday night.

The restaurant has an amazing terrace overlooking the sea. When we arrived, they asked us to wait a little before our table was ready. Sipping our Bellini (the trademark drink of Cipriani) I had the chance to look at the crowd.

Definitely not a date spot, you had a bit of all: some Turkish socialites, some families and some big groups celebrating birthdays.

I haven’t seen all my favorite dishes from Cipriani NY, so I was a little disappointed. On the other hand, it gave me a chance to try different dishes. I highly advice fish dishes and the appetizers.

I have ordered a tagliata as a main course (sliced big), but the portion was way too big, so if you are in meat mood, definitely you have to share.

After being nicely fed, we asked our Maitre d’ to organize us a table at Billionaire club.

Now that’s a place that I advice for singles ;)

Billionaire in Yalikavak

Billionaire in Yalikavak

Beautiful women, hot men, a meat market on its own. And let’s not forget the entertainment of watching people getting their Magnum of Champagne.

I have to admit, Flavio Briatore is a marketing genius.

Every time that someone took a Magnum of Champagne, the light goes off, you have 6 people carrying a sexy dancer who holds the magnum, with the intro theme song of Rocky, “Gonna Fly Now” and finishing up with “R u reaaaady!!!”…

Of course, the person who orders the bottle feels like a king, and the guy at the next table wants to get the same treatment, so orders the same to impress ;)

Come on, let’s admit, it can sound tacky, but it is simply genius.

No need to say, we didn’t order any magnums, just regular champagne, so we didn’t have the whole show, just a little party candle firework on our bottle, hahaha…

The whole night was great, as the restaurant, the club and the boys were Italians; we nominated Dark Angel the head of Mission for the Italian Embassy ;) )))

Bodrum is a port city in Mugla province in the Aegean region of Turkey. Türkbükü, a coastal town 25 km from Bodrum, is the favorite vacation spot and second home residency of Turks. In Bodrum, you can see a lot of foreign tourist; in Türkbükü the majority of visitors remain Turks.

Just to give you an idea, in Türkbükü, there are no sandy beaches. There is a board walk next to the sea full of shops, restaurants, bars and docks. The docks are used for sunbathing during the day, dinning and partying at night. This protected harbor is a refuge for yachts and Turkish celebrities.

In other words, it is the St-Tropez of Turkey.

I was supposed to spend a week with my Disco girl at the beginning of summer, when our plans collapsed I organized a long week-end with my Angels at the beginning of August.

For the ones who don’t know, whenever I go to Turkey, I meet with my Angels. I am Bosley who gives out the new mission and our Charlie changes on every trip.

On this trip, I was with Mission Angel, Dark Angel and the Telecommunication Angel (a new member, who earned her wings at the end of the trip).

As I have mentioned, there are several hotels next to each other in Türkbükü; I have tried most of them. When I go with the family, I stay at Divan Palmira, which is a five star hotel with a pool. When I go with my friends, I go to Fidèle.

Fidèle, which means “Faithful” in French, is the best place to hang out in the boardwalk.


There are few rooms. They are not five star hotel rooms, but to be honest when I go with my friends I see my room just to shower, change and sleep for an hour or two…. So who cares?

After having my breakfast with my feet in the water, I spend my day on the dock to get tanned and swim. This I call the resting period.

At 6pm, it is time to enjoy Türkbükü. With my Angels, we go on the boardwalk and shop and come back at the hotel for our happy hour.

The best happy hour? When it is full moon, at precisely 8.05pm, we can see the moon coming out behind the mountains. The DJ plays “the full moon song”, and you know why you picked Fidèle hotel among the others.

By the time you finish your “very” happy hour, get showered and dressed; it is 10pm and finally time to eat.

You can choose among all the restaurants in Türkbükü, or even get adventurous and go to the other ports nearby.

Fidèle has a great restaurant as well, a very broad menu where you should not miss the octopus carpaccio, the shrimps with rice and the Fidèle salad, and if you are not in the mood of fish, great Turkish dishes or meat. I have to say, everything that comes out of the kitchen is delicious…, and over the years I believe I have tasted all ;)

Fidèle doesn’t attract only locals and Turkish tourists but also the few foreign tourists, who leave Bodrum and come to our side of the bay.

On Friday night, we met 3 Mexicans. Their boat was in Bodrum (and no they didn’t come from Mexico by boat, lol), and although they knew Turkey and the surroundings, it was their first time in Türkbükü.

Mission Angel, who makes part of Fidèle family’s new adventure in Istanbul, took well care of them, and even challenged them to Turkish tequila.

Thanks to the food, the ambiance in Fidèle Hotel and let’s not forget my Angels, I am sure they will be “Faitful” and come back very soon ;)

So, what else can I say … If you want to go to Türkbükü with your friends and just want to spend a good night with good food, you have to pass by Fidèle Hotel.

Look at me and my Angels, we went to rest…, and we ended up barely sleeping. We ate well, tanned well and partied too well.

It felt like opening a Kinder surprise; you don’t know what toy will come out from your egg. From our egg chocolate, Zorro, The Captain and The Doc came out ….

In Istanbul, when a new restaurant opens, it becomes the place to be.

I prefer to wait and see if the fuzz continues after a while. Pipa is one of those restaurants. The first time I heard about it, and they explained me PiPa stands for pizza, pasta; I had my doubts…

My friends encouraged me to go and taste it. They told it is a nice place, and the food is “to die for”.

So during my last visit in Istanbul, I decided to try it.

The restaurant is located near Nisantasi, where I stay, so you can simply walk…

PiPa Restaurant Istanbul

PiPa Restaurant Istanbul

Let me tell you, if you don’t know where it is, you have to ask, as you cannot guess there is a restaurant in that building. When you finally find the entrance, black glass doors; you enter in a very modern designed, soft light, restaurant. The kitchen is open, and you have several bar seats.

We opted for a table, near the window.

The view? Some ugly and dirty buildings and people dusting their carpets from the balcony.

The service was nice; we ordered some appetizers to share and pizza as the main course. Unfortunately, all the appetizers were fried, and to be honest they all had the same taste.
The pizza was just I like it, very thin crust and delicious.
The good news is I won’t die for this food :)

It was a Wednesday, so not very full. The crowd composed of a bit of everything. Let’s bear in mind that it is summer, and they don’t have a terrace or garden.

And in Turkey not being able to smoke while having dinner, puts the restaurant at a big risk. Don’t underestimate the saying” “smoking like a Turkish”, we do smoke a lot ;)

My big shock was the price list… I couldn’t believe that a basic pizza coast 32TL which is roughly 18 USD. I understand we are in Istanbul, a big city, but this is supposed to be a pizzeria.

And for Turkey standards it is huge, I would have understood if we were in a fancy restaurant….

Would I return to PiPa? Not very sure. The décor is really beautiful, but they shouldn’t ask me to pay for it… and in my opinion, it won’t last long… unless they lower their prices.

Last night with my three ladies I went to try out “Les Trois Verres” (The Three Glasses)… I guess that makes me the bottle, lol.

This restaurant is one of the latest additions in Geneva’s food industry, and I always heard very good comments about it.

After our “short” happy hour at Capocaccia that finished at 10pm, we were all happy and ready to eat something.

In Geneva, the restaurants tempt to close quite early, I guess people don’t need to work that much… To my good surprise, “I Tre Bicchieri’s” kitchen is open until 11pm and guess what, it wasn’t empty at 10.30pm. When you don’t live in Geneva, this sounds a normal thing, believe me in our city, this is a big deal.

So after spending 10 minutes choosing which table we wanted to sit (my three ladies are as demanding as I am), we found our happiness.

The menu has lots of variety; several kind of salads, lots of pastas, fish and meat.

We have all started with Tuna Tartare. I am sure by now you know I don’t eat onions and every time it is a deal breaker to ask them to prepare my tartare fresh with no onions. Well, good news, their tuna tartare with mango, doesn’t have onions, and it is delicious.

For my main courses, I opted for a Filet Mignon. I eat my filet rare; the instruction seems easy, but very often I receive it either overcooked or not enough cooked (where the outside of the steak is burned and the inside cold).

I am sure they hate me when I send it back, but a good cook should know how to make it.

At the restaurant “Les Trois Verres”, the cook made it perfect on the first go, so I give him a big A+

Overall, it was a great success. We ate and drank well, and we laughed a lot.

I will highly advise this restaurant and apparently you need to check it during happy hour. You have a lot of wine choices by the glass, and also a lot of single choices… I guess by the look.

I will probably check that in winter, so I could sit inside and enjoy their nice décor, wine and men.

Le Bistrot Dumas, is one of those neighborhood restaurants that attract not only customers living around, but also customers who appreciate a great Bouchon Lyonnais.

A bouchon is a type of restaurant found in Lyon, France. It serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, which is quite fatty and heavily oriented around meat.

At the beginning, it was owned by Patrice and Marie Baleno, who decided to sell it in 2000 in order to visit the world in their bike.

The new owner, Herve del Puppo, kept the same menu for several years. Only in the recent months he decided to change it with his new chef Habib Ajroudi.

Although I loved the old menu, let me tell you, I adore the new one.

Last week, I went with my Italian friend who recently moved to Geneva. He knows all the new and hip restaurants, but I like to take him to the old and real spots in Geneva. Where the quality of the food stays always excellent, and we have no risk seeing it closed if we go the following week or month.

I was on a diet, and planned to eat light. All my plans collapsed once I entered the restaurant. Diet what?!? With the smells coming out of the kitchen, I was simply starving.

I took the “Octopus Carpaccio” to start with, he went with the “Snail Cassoulet”. Now I know that some people have reservations when it comes to snails. But as you know it is not about the snail, it is about the sauce that they cook the snails. Generally it is with garlic butter, at Dumas they added some cream and white wine.

I dipped my bread in his sauce; I can confirm it is simply delicious and “very light”.

For the main course, I had the “Classic Beef Tartare”, and he had “The veal chop with Dumas Butter”. Just to keep in mind they have four different kind of tartare. Mental note: When I stop pretending to be on a diet, I need to try the tartare with the Dumas butter.

The Bistrot Dumas has a great wine list. We opted for a bottle of St Estephe (a burgundy).

Once again, I left happy the restaurant, and if I am not wrong I brought them a new client, as my Italian friend is thinking to return and bring his parents 

Bistrot Dumas can be a neighborhood restaurant, but believe me even if you don’t live around, it is worth the trip.

You know in your life there is one restaurant where you feel home. Well Auberge Communal d’Onex is where I feel that.

The first time I have been there I was around 10 years old. At that time, I was in boarding school in Lausanne, and my parents would come often to visit from Turkey.

I still remember the first time I saw the restaurant, it looked like a cottage. When we entered as the owner, Valentino and his wife (now ex wife) welcomed us at the door.

I genuinely thought we were going to dinner at my parent’s friends’ house… beautiful house.

Valentino and his staff (that never changed) saw me grow up throughout the years. Every time I go I have a feeling to be back home. They are also happy to see their once grumpy little girl becoming a woman.

The restaurant serves Italian food. When you sit they bring you several bowls right away of stuff the nibble. You have the parmesan cheese, tomatoes, radish, olives or anything that is fresh from the market.

Then you order your food. My favorite dish there is the “orecchio d’elefante”, literally the “elephant ear”. First time I was scared to see a real elephant ear on my plate, but quickly discovered that it is actually a veal Milanese, battered so thin that it becomes huge and looks like an elephant ear.

In winter, we have the chance to taste all the plate with white truffles, my favorite from far is the risotto with truffles.

What I like about Valentino’s food is that he looks what is fresh in the market, and you don’t need to open the menu. He simply tells you what are his latest market purchases and makes you a fresh salad of puntarella or artichokes.

The after dinner treats at Auberge d'Onex

The after dinner treats at Auberge d'Onex

When you finish your main courses, they bring you several jars of candy (candy that reminds you of your childhood), amaretti; bowls filled with of chocolate, fruit, chocolate mousse; plates of cannoli (Sicilian pastry dessert and my sister’s favorite), éclair and so much more…. And if you still need some more sweet, they have their dessert cart.

How can you not feel home with all this? Not that at home I have all those jars and bowls of sugar coma ;)

When you look around, you see that most of the patrons are like you, usual suspects. Valentino and his staff know each and every of them.

For the price, well it is not cheap and they don’t accept plastic (so no credit cards), so you better pass by a cash machine before going. Although lately I saw few clients paying with one… but worst, he takes your address and sends you the bill home.

Niazi opened its doors in 1949 in Limassol as a shop serving locals. In 1974, it was relocated to Kyrenia and became a kebab house.

In Europe, you can see everywhere little kebab shops, (döner kebab) it consist on roasted meat cooked on a vertical spit. It can be called Gyro (in Greece) or Shawarma (in Arabic countries). In Europe, it is just called kebab, doner kebab is just one sort of kebab. You can count easily 40 types of kebabs only in Turkey (just to give you an idea).

The kebab is grilled, roasted, and stewed dishes of large or small cuts of meat, or even ground meat; it may be served on plates, in sandwiches, or in bowls.

So when we were in Cyprus, we took few hours off the casinos and went to Niazi. It was the perfect spot for our group of 16 people. When you enter the restaurant, you understand why it is called a kebab house.

The Kebab Bar @ Niazi

The Kebab Bar @ Niazi

You have several tables, and in the middle of the room, there is a very typical old man sitting in front of a giant charcoal grill. He cooks several kebabs at the same time and the waiters serve them to the tables.

In other words, some have sushi bars some have mozzarella bars and Niazi has a kebab bar.

The “Full Kebab” concept is simple: you have several mezes (Middle Eastern tapas) to start your meal and then you chose among different grilled kebabs from the “bar”.

The minute we sat different mezzes came to our table, my favorites were the hummus, the aubergine salad, their own yogurt and also the grilled halloumi cheese (it is Cypriot semi hard cheese made with goat,sheep and sometimes cow’s milk.)

We had Raki to accompany our food. Raki is an anise flavored hard alcohol that goes very well with kebab or fish. It can be called Pastis, Ouzo, Arak, or Sambuca depending on the country where you are in.

Once we finished our mezzes, the kebabs started flying. We had the adana kebab, the kaftas, the meat and chicken skewers, the chicken kaftas, the aubergine kebab and the lamb chops just to give you a little idea.

No need to say we were full and a little tipsy at the end of the evening. Most of the dishes were delicious, and the service was incredible. The best, it wasn’t expensive at all, more money to lose at the casino ;)

Overall it was a great evening. And after seing the other restaurants in Cyprus, I will say Niazi is the place to go. Don’t expect a fancy spot and don’t wear your fancy clothes. It is casual, and because of the inside grill, when you leave the restaurant you smell like a little kebab yourself!!!

In Turkey, the casinos have been banished since 1998. Although gambling destroyed some families, the main reason was on moral grounds and to stop the money laundering.

As there were no legal casinos in the country, people mainly traveled to North Cyprus to gamble. So Cyprus became Turkey’s Atlantic City on a smaller range. You can find big hotels and some of them with their private beach.

During my last trip, we have decided to go to Cyprus for few days. We were a big group of 16 people: our mothers, us and the grand kids. We opted for the latest hotel as we thought it will be the best.

Normally, people are guests of the hotels, meaning they don’t pay their trip or rooms as they spend their days gambling.

We decided to pay everything and not feel obliged to gamble as we were with the kids and all….

A friend of mine organized the shuttle to the hotel; the kids were really excited to get in a hummer limo. I thought that is a great start. It is a nice hotel with a great pool and private beach, but we were not lucky enough to use it as it was raining most of the time.

Cratos Hotel Cyprus - Pool and Private Beach

Cratos Hotel Cyprus - Pool and Private Beach

When they say, never judge a book from its cover, it is true.

The hotel is nicely constructed, but the rest is bad. My first clue was when they gave us bad rooms and the AC of the hotel wasn’t working, the toilets leaking, the bed sheets smelling and with no view whatsoever.

And especially when we called to complain, their answer was that they couldn’t do anything.

Now, maybe I forgot to say, this is a 5 star hotel…

I can write a whole book about how bad was the hotel is, the food and service, but I have to be realist, normally people who go there don’t see their room.

They go on the week-ends; where apparently the AC is on, and they spend all their time in the casino, even eat there, so off course they don’t see the same problems.

The only nice thing was the casino, where the service was great, and the hosts looking for “whales” (a casino whale is a big player) to rob…

Thanks god there were 7 kids entertaining each other, so we did the next best thing, spend our time to gamble…. And to complain about the hotel to the casino staff of course, lol.

My nephew who doesn’t understand what a casino is and who noticed that they were banned from entering; told me that he thought it was a screening room where we kept watching horror movies.

Told him, he wasn’t far from the truth, as sometimes losing your money is like a horror movie.

My niece, on the other hand, did a smart thing, gave me some cash and asked me to play with it and win.

The casino is definitely smaller than the one we are used to in Las Vegas. It didn’t really matter. The girls and I asked them to open a blackjack table, and played all night long.

My only complaint was that they didn’t have a craps table. Later I learned that they had one, but as nobody knew how to play (the casino staff included), they never opened it.
Maybe I should ask them to hire me and teach them how to play.

After 3 days and 2 nights, we have done it all: complained, gambled, gossiped, ate and made sure the Hotel and Casino Cratos will never forget us ;)