Category: Nat’s Hotels

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 

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 ….

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.

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 ;)

When you live in Geneva, you keep complaining that there is nothing to do. Geneva is not a big city like Paris, Milan, London or New York, so you cannot expect the city to have the same attractions.

It is true that at 6 – 7pm in winter the roads are deserted, and when the temperature goes below 0 degrees Celsius, it becomes a Ghost town.

Let me tell you, life doesn’t stop after work, you can find several things to do. For example, going to the theater.

The Swiss Arthur prod is a company that brings Parisian shows to our city. They even offer you a season pass where you can purchase in advance 8 shows, and they offer you the ninth one.

The price varies between 250 chf to 810 chf according to your seat.

All the shows are at Theatre du Leman, just under the Hotel Kempinsky, Geneva.

My sister, who is a smart cookie, bought a season ticket for two. Due to my traveling, I managed to catch only two shows. I can tell you that they were very well chosen. She told me that all the selected theater shows were fun and worth every penny.

Last night we went to see a one man show, the comedian name is Olivier de Benoist. I have personally never heard about him, but I guess I was the only one (shame on me). He is one of the funniest men I have seen lately. And the public loves him.

I encourage all my French speaking peeps to give him a shot.

I know that we cannot compare Geneva Theater life to Broadway or Paris, but it is still great. I had a sneak peak of next season’s program; it is really worth it.

I have decided to go to Istanbul for few days, for business and lots of pleasure. You know I keep telling you about my favorite hotel in the city, Radisson Blu in Ortakoy.

This time they have disappointed me as the usual people had left the hotel. It is still very well located, but it lost all its charm, as I don’t feel home as I used to.

So when I returned from my hometown Mersin to Istanbul, I have decided to try a new hotel, my moms favorite, House Hotel in Nisantasi.

Nisantasi is the most exclusive district for shopping, fashion, and entertainment… You can compare it to Madisson avenue in NY. House hotel is located between Prada and Prada and just few steps of Beymen (Turkey’s Bergdorf Goodman).

This luxury design boutique hotel has around 40 rooms, and an impeccable service. Its prices depend on the season, but it is worth every penny you pay for it. And to top that, don’t know if it is the quality of the eggs or the Hollandaise sauce that has an extra lemony taste… it has the best “Eggs Benedicts”.

And God knows how much I like that dish and have tried all around the world.

I think my mom is right, this hotel is really a great discovery, and you quickly start feeling at home… a luxurious home ;)

This week-end my friend’s (the Meerkat) husband (M. Deco) asked to all of us to join them in London, to celebrate her birthday.

You know me… they say party with friends, well I am there. Especially when it is for the Meerkat, as she was my partner in crime when we were both singles in New York. We did lots of Safari nights in the city ;)

Once in London, we all met at the hotel for bubbles and go to our favorite restaurant, “Cecconi’s”. The group was composed of the London usual suspects, the Meerkat and M. Deco, Miss Speakeasy with her man (my spiritual son), the party animal (believe me no party is the same without her) and later the Tornado joined us.

Cecconi’s, located in Mayfair, is an Italian restaurant with Venitian inspired food. My favorite part of the restaurant is the booths. They are all covered in dark green velvet, and you feel so comfy that you don’t want to leave your table. I guess that is one of the reasons that making a reservation is very hard… Thanks God M. Deco has connections and he makes it happen every time I fly to London.

We ordered few appetizers to share, then some people took pasta some other meat. Let’s be honest I don’t go to Cecconi’s mainly for food. Cecconi’s means, an incredible crowd and ambiance. I think I have never seen that restaurant empty. I am not talking about the usual breakfast, lunch or dinner times, I am talking about between those hours.

Another good point of Cecconi’s is is the crowd, ok you have some occasional “professionals”, but it is full of cute men and women, ready to mingle and have a great time.

I will say to the singles, the perfect place to have a drink at the bar. It is a win win situation: you will always have a good time, but you can also meet your mate ;)

We started at Cecconi’s at 3pm, we were 6 people… at passed 7pm, we were 10 very “happy and loud” people.

Once again, I had a blast. Of course, the company was amazing, and we can enjoy even a bad location; but Cecconi’s has this vibe that just makes you feel good…. Maybe not that much the following day, but that’s another post….

My first night, we decided to have a drink at the W hotel. The W Barcelona opened recently and is designed by world-famed architect Ricardo Bofill. If you are not familiar with his work, he has also designed the city’s airport who received the award for the best airport in Europe.

“W”, located along the famed boardwalk La Barceloneta, strangely reminds you of the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai.

When you enter to the hotel, you notice it is very modern. Like almost all the W hotels are, it is very dark with some bright purple lights. It is beautiful, but didn’t make me feel comfy and homy.

It was too windy, and they didn’t have warmers at the terrace, so we sat at the indoor bar. Half full, with a DJ playing with a way too loud music . Let me tell you, I am happy that we stayed at the Hotel Arts.

After a quick drink, we all went to Botafumeiro. This restaurant, has opened its doors more than 25 years ago, and serves amazing seafood. It has a long bar where you can also eat. We opted for a table.
As Magician and Twinkie were not hungry, we ate our food and theirs…

You know how they say, “your eyes are bigger than your stomach”; well, we wanted to taste everything so we ordered a bit of everything. We have started with seafood croquettas, calamaris and don’t laugh a Russian salad (come on we are with the Russian Ring Ding) which was revised Spanish style. Oh without forgetting a spider crab gratin.

The next plate was a seafood platter and, off course, we had to try the paella. As we couldn’t make up our mind, we opted for one with calamari and squid ink, and one with seafood.

Everything was yummy, but between us, we shouldn’t have lost our time and appetite with the appetizers and start straight with the seafood platter. Then maybe we could have eaten the paella.

After three and a half hour hard work of eating and drinking… we couldn’t move anymore. Even when the mariachi’s came to play for us, I think the only part of my body that could move was my eyes.

I am ashamed to say that, it didn’t stop us to try the cream Catalana.

What do I think about the restaurant? A bit touristic, great food, lovely service and as usual amazing company. Next time (if I ever go back), I will definitely sit at the bar and enjoy a seafood platter with a chilled white wine.

On the other side, we are in Barcelona with so many great addresses, so I guess during my next trip I won’t lose my time and calorie count there, and go to another tapas or seafood restaurant.

That night we were hoping to hit the Casino and gamble a little… but seriously, I am just happy that I managed to walk to a cab….

My friends from NY, “The Marmelade’s”, have decided to go to Barcelona for a week during spring break.

I went to Barcelona couple of years ago, and loved it, so I decided to take Swiss (better than easy jet) on Friday to join them.

I had the feeling to be in Turkey, as almost each passenger had two bags, and we know you are allowed to have only one. They indicate the flight to be 1h30 minutes… but actually the flight is not more than 45 min and the company spends the other 45 minutes to measure and weighing the bags. They also take away the extra ones.

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this the job of the check-in? I guess they are more concentrated to check on their makeup, than check in your luggage 

Finally, when I arrived at Barcelona, took a cab for the hotel. The distance from the airport to The Hotel Arts is 35 minutes, but I think in Spain people start the week-end early, cause we had huge Friday traffic jam at 2.30 pm. Let me tell you these Spanish know how to live, between good weather, the amazing food, quality naps and long week-ends, no kidding they are smiling more than the Swiss… they have a better life.

It took me more than an hour to arrive at the hotel, and another 50 minutes to arrive to the restaurant and join my friends. Let me tell you for a 45 minutes flight, I left home at 11 am and arrived at my destination (the restaurant) at 4 pm… Thanks god it was yummy ;)

I will talk about the food a bit later, let’s step back a minute to talk about my hotel.

The Hotel Arts Barcelona is one of the most popular hotel in the city. Owned by the Ritz Carlton group, it is situated in the marina of Port Olimpico. The hotel is literally steps away from the beach. Did I tell you all the happening restaurants and bars are on the beach????

….and minutes away from the city center (if no traffic).

The hotel is very modern, with great rooms. The down side… at the lobby they offer you water and candies all day long. Excuse me who goes to Spain to drink water and eat candies… even kids want to experience more exciting things.

Another thing that I should point out… I understand they are all about the service, they want to satisfy the customer and get feedback to improve… but they should stop harassing their guests… especially when you put a “do not disturb” sign on your door. I received two calls: The first one was to make a satisfaction survey during my nap…

And the second one was from housekeeping. Apparently they saw the do not disturb sign, and wanted to make sure that I don’t want them to open my bed…. Guess what I am already in bed, and if I put the sign out, it is “NOT” to be disturbed….

Ohhh, and without forgetting the several e-mails that I received since I left the hotel, from the general manager and from the satisfaction survey.

I know I am a “VIP”, but it kind of feels that the hotel is my new harasser, lol. What would have happened if I were a real celebrity? Will I find someone back In Geneva to ask my experience at the hotel?

Joke aside, the hotel is great and I will definitely return there. I checked out the new W hotel while I was there, beautiful, but too impersonal. Hotel Arts is modern, but has also this comfy style that makes you want to hang out.

We decided to celebrate my mother’s birthday at Chateauvieux with some friends. Unfortunately, the  chef’s table was already booked, so we opted for the second best solution, in the main room.

You have to know that The Domaine de Chateauvieux is in Satigny which is near the airport of Geneva. Even if it takes you 15 minutes for the airport, it took us almost 45 minutes to reach there (basically the time to go to Paris by plane). I mainly blame my Tom Tom (or the slut in the box) for that. I have suspicions that her job is to show me the “longest” way….

Chevrier, the owner and cook of Domaine de Chateauvieux has several restaurants under his belt. Café des Negociants and Le Vallon are only two of them. I love what he did with Vallon, but not such a fan of afé des Negociants. I tried twice since he took over and got disappointed.

Anyway, back to the birthday dinner…
When you enter the restaurant, you can see the kitchen as it is behind glasses… so all the cooks are like fishes in an aquarium; when you look at them, they get curious and look back at you, lol. The main fish, Philippe Chevrier, was very happy to see us (go figure why).

The main dining room is beautiful and spacious; quite busy I have to add…

No need to say, but just in case, if you are on a budget, don’t go to have dinner at Domaine de Chateauvieux. The appetizers start at 80 usd, the main courses go up to 230 usd (the lobster) and the tasting menus starts from 300 usd …

The wine list on the other hand starts at 290 usd…

We didn’t choose the tasting menus, some of us have started with the “Seared force-fed duck liver “foie gras” on stewed mango with lime and pepper caramel sauce”, and continued with the “Simmental filet of beef, braised shoulder, watercress with chanterelles and onion sauce”.

Some others took the “Ancelin n°2 oysters slightly cooked with vodka, sea water jelly flavoured with ginger and apple”, followed by “Pan fried filets of red mullet with baby squid and sea urchin sauce”.

Everything was delicious, but between us, I preferred the “amuse-bouches” they brought us before. I knew I should have taken the surprise menu and let Chevrier be inspired for my food!!!

No need to say it was an amazing evening; the company was delightful and we laughed a lot. On our way out, we finally met Chevrier who was charming and told us they will love to have us dine in the kitchen next time….He said the kitchen is a male’s world, and they always appreciate ladies eating while they cook for us

He just forgot to mention that you need to book way in advance to get that famous chef’s table, will keep you all posted when I will finally eat inside the aquarium 