Dec 24, 2013

The Winter Wonderland of Traverse City, Michigan (U.S.A.)



                                              Downtown Traverse City at Christmas

Two months ago I relocated to Traverse City never expecting this much snow BUT it does snow a lot around here because of the lake effect. As I get to know this region more and more each day I'm in awe of the beauty that Northern Michigan has to offer.

Traverse City a jewel of a city is nestled between two gorgeous peninsula's "Old Mission" and "Leelanau," The area is an outdoors paradise with fresh air and lots of sporting activities in the winter months. There's lots of lakes around here as well as vineyards and cherry orchards.

Traverse City is a "foodie town"with a multitude of tasty foods ranging from sushi to pasties. There are historic movie theaters, playhouses, yoga studios, art galleries, interesting shops and so much more.

As I get ready to prepare a Christmas Eve meal from the groceries I bought earlier today I marvel at spending my Christmas in such a beautiful place. Yes it's cold, yes there's lots of snow, yes the driving can get challenging, yes I have to work hard to pay the bills but the pro's outweigh the con's.

Please try to follow my upcoming post that reflects on all there is to see and do in TRAVERSE CITY and the surrounding area. There's a reason this area is attracting the rich and famous. Stay tuned.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Adrianna


Dec 11, 2013

Hints about Huanchaco

Huanchaco, a village on the northern coast of Peru won me over with its authenticity and friendly people. Although the beaches here are beginning to look a little run down it's still an amazing place to surf and enjoy the beaches.

It's very easy to walk around Huanchaco and you'll be rewarded with plenty of shops and restaurants to choose from as you circle your way around marvelous Huanchaco.







Adrianna's Recommendations:

Don't miss out on nearby Chan Chan, a World Heritage site. Chan Chan is a Pre-Columbian city and archaeological site. A visit here will let you witness what life was like in South America centuries ago.

Take a walk on the pier for great views.

Hostal El Ancla is a charming place for lodging.

Chocolate Cafe is irresistible. I ate her twice in one day. The house speciality is the melt in your mouth hot chocolate.
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Unforgettable Peruvian Hot Chocolate (Serves 4)

4 ounces authentic Peruvian semi sweet chocolate, chopped
3 cups water
4 cloves and 2 sticks of cinnamon
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
1 cup whip cream

Boil the cinnamon sticks and cloves in three cups of water in a large pot for 10-12 minutes. Add the chopped chocolate and allow it to melt into the boiled water. Add the milk, sugar, and vanilla essence.
Mix gently and pour the hot chocolate into mugs. You can put some whip cream on top of the hot chocolate to make it extra creamy and rich.




Nov 29, 2013

Culinary Wonders of Peru

Spending a couple of weeks in Peru this past June really gave me a taste of what Peruvian life is all about. Peru has hundreds of treasures scattered everywhere. I just didn't have time to absorb it all but I did find time to eat some of the fabulous dishes that Peru is famous for. Ceviche is one of the most popular dishes in Peru and is considered a "national heritage."

While visiting Lima for a few days  I got to meet friendly Carlos who shared a "ceviche" recipe with me that his grandmother taught him to make. It's possible to make "ceviche" anywhere in the world but in beautiful coastal Peru it's truly the ultimate, My thanks (gracias) to Carlo's for showing me the Lima coastline and being kind in providing a delicious recipe for ceviche. (recipe is below)


                                          The coastline of Peru where fish is caught to make
                                          ceviche!


PERUVIAN CEVICHE

2 pounds of fresh fish, cubed (Corvina, similar to halibut and mahi mahi called Dorado in Spanish are excellent choices for ceviche).

10 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of black pepper

2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro

1 Aji Amarillo (yellow chili pepper) or another similar pepper, strained and seeded from the pulp

12 fresh limes (juiced) try to use a juicer for best results

1 red onion, thinly chopped
____________________________________________________________________________

Mix all the ingredients together and put them in baking dish pan. Top the mix with the chopped red onions and refrigerate the mixture for three hours allowing it to marinate.

Remove ceviche from refrigerator after about three hours.

Place a few scoops of the ceviche on individual plates. Put some dark green lettuce mixture and sliced avocado on the side of the plate to garnish the ceviche.

                                          Adrianna eating fresh ceviche in Mancora, Peru

Nov 19, 2013

Choices, Choices in Laid Back Mancora

Melt away your stresses on Peru's northern coast in laid back M A N C O R A:





Where to Stay:

Hotel Las Olas faces the beach. There are hammocks, lounge chairs and a reputable restaurant in the lobby area. A very nice place to stay.

Don Giovanni has beachfront rooms and an awesome gelato cafe.

A stay at Samana Chakra will have your senses feeling perfect from head to toe.

Enjoy the beach life at Casa de Playa Bungalows.


Where to Eat:



Cevicheria Jasusi serves delicious Peruvian cuisine and their ceviche is the best in town.

El Aji  has tasty Mexican food.

La Sirena d Juan rarely disappoints it's customers. The fusion dishes are excellent.

La Mosca en la Sopa is known for Argentine grilled meats and fresh seafood dishes.

Jugeria Mi Janett is the place to go for tasty food, refreshing fresh juice, and great smoothies.




Surfing Rules in Mancora



Where to take Surfing Lessons:

Victor's Surf School has really good instructors and they also rent surfboards.

Where to learn Spanish:

Wasicenter Spanish School is where you can learn to master the Spanish language.


Delicious Gelato


Where to shop:          

Tourists and locals have plenty of places to shops to choose from. There are open markets and independent stores right in the heart of Mancora


Friends are easy to make in Mancora

                                                   
What to do:

Surf, fish, go kayaking, read a book, take a class, go hiking, swim, watch the sunrise and sunset,
go dancing, hang out at the bar, try different restaurants, drink a fruit smoothie, learn Spanish,
be a passenger in a moto taxi, feed the stray dogs, eat churro's, shop, explore, have fun!!!


Recipes:

Ceviche & Limoncello  

I'll be sharing Peruvian recipes in my next post: "Culinary Wonders of Peru"

Nov 16, 2013

Five Days in M A N C O R A ( P E R U )

Peru, Peru, I wish I were in Mancora, Peru....


Moto Taxi
                              
These days the whole world seems to know of an amazing place called MACHU PICCHU. It's Peru's top tourist attraction and with good reason but if you're longing for a relaxing time in a picturesque seaside town on the Pacific coast than choose Mancora. Mancora is the kind of place that captures your spirit with it's beautiful beaches, pretty buildings, swaying palms, incredible surfing, and seaside charm. Whether you stay here a day, a week, or a year you'll soon see why so many South American's love to vacation in lovely Mancora.

Surfing rules in Mancora and some of the best surfers in South America like hanging out in Mancora. There are plenty of water activities to choose from. How about beach yoga? When I was in Mancora I gave a few free yoga classes on the sandy beach and we all enjoyed views of the ocean while doing are asanas. Mancora is famous for it's ceviche and almost every restaurant in town serves fresh ceviche.





Fresh & Delicious Ceviche












Friendly Mancora Kids




First Day:

Refresh yourself with a smoothie made with local fruits than take a swim in the ocean. Do some surfing or enroll in a surfing class and brush up on your surfing skills. Have dinner with a glass of wine and smile knowing that you're in beautiful Mancora.

Second Day:

Start the day with some beach yoga and than have breakfast at a cafe on the beach.  Take a Spanish class and learn some Espanol. Have some fresh ceviche with a glass of Peruvian Pilsen Callao beer for a late lunch. For some nightlife spend a couple of hours dancing at the RunaWasi Discoteca.

Third Day:

Wake up early and watch the sun rise as you sip on fresh brewed Peruvian coffee. Go surfing or rent a kayak. Other options are scuba diving or reading a book while lounging on the beach. Don't miss out on delicious churro's sold at 3:00 pm on the beach by a man who makes the best churro's in Mancora. In the evening watch the glorious sunset while surfing or just hang out on the sandy beach with a drink.

Fourth Day:

Take a fun taxi ride in a Moto Taxi on the Pan American Highway and enjoy the sights. Afterwards visit the array of shops along the Pan American Highway. Have a Pisco Sour in town and than walk along the beach and watch the fisherman docking their boats after a day of fishing. Watch the sunset.

Fifth Day

Enjoy a delicious morning breakfast and than had to the beach to enjoy the sand, surf, and sun. Mingle with the locals and take lots of pictures for fond memories. Pick a restaurant of your choice and have a delicious meal before saying goodbye (adios) to Mancora.

Treat yourself to a churro!

Up Next: Where to eat and stay in Mancora.

Oct 31, 2013

A Peek at Peru

South America is a diverse continent with much to offer. Lately all eyes have been on PERU because it has a multitude of treasures; the Amazon River, Chan Chan, Huanchaco, Machu Picchu, Mancora, Puno, Uras Islands.....

The Peruvians have some of the best cuisine in the world and eating meals in Peru is an experience in itself. The national drink "Pisco Sour" is something you just have to try. Check out my recipe below.

Follow me on my next post as I share the treasures of Peru and provide recipes for delicious dishes like the famous "Ceviche."

Coming soon: PERU (The country of adventures and treasures)






Pisco Sour

3 ounces pisco
1 ounce syrup (recipe below)
1 ounce lime juice
1 egg white
Angostura BItters (2 dashes)

Mix the pisco, syrup, lime juice and egg white in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake.
Strain in a drinking glass and sprinkle two dashes of bitters on top.

Pisco Sours are great to drink anytime of year!

How to make the syrup:

Boil 1 cup of water in a small pot. Dissolve 2 cups of sugar in the boiling water. Once the sugar completely dissolves and the syrup thickens remove from heat and cool the mixture. This mixture can be stored in glass bottles.


Oct 19, 2013

The Finger Lakes of New York State

New Yorkers are very lucky people for many reasons 1) they have New York City 2) they have Niagara Falls 3) they have the Catskills and the Hudson Valley 4) they have Long Island with the famous Hampton's not to mention Fire Island National Seashore and Montauk 5) they have 6 million acres of unspoiled Adirondack Mountains 6) they have the Thousand Islands 7) they have awesome pizza......and they have The Finger Lakes!

When I first arrived in Ithaca to take a two week course at Cornell University I fell in love with this gorgeous town. In fact you'll see plenty of bumper stickers and t-shirts with the logo "Ithaca is Gorges" because the area is home to gorges. A gorge is a deep narrow passage with a rocky side and it really is gorgeous to look at. Living in this college town is a dream come true because:

1)   Cornell University and Ithaca College are here.
2)   It's a pedestrian friendly town with great biking too.
3)   The restaurants are crowd pleasers like the famous Moosewood.
4)   Part of beautiful Cayuga Lake is in Ithaca.
5)   The "Ithaca Commons" is a good place to eat and shop.
6)   Nearby "Buttermilk Falls State Park" is a hikers and swimmers paradise.
7)   The area is surrounded by first rate wineries.
8)   The cultural scene is stimulating.
9)   The scenery really is G O R G E S  (GORGEOUS)

From Ithaca you can circle the entire Finger Lakes region and visit:

Auburn, Canandaigua, Geneva, Hammondsport, Naples, Penn Yen, Seneca Falls, Skaneateles,Waterloo, and Watkins Glens.

Spots to Visit:

William H. Seward House, Auburn
Canandaigua Lake Wineries, Canandaigua
Glenn H, Curtiss Musuem, Hammondsport
Greyton H. Taylor Wine Museum, Hammondsport
Waterloo Premium Outlets Mall, Waterloo
Watkins Glenn State Park, Watkins Glen
Wegman's Supermarket in Auburn, Canandaigua, Geneva, or Ithaca

The eleven lakes of the Finger Lakes all have their own unique characteristics. You can rent a cabin for an entire summer or winter on one of the lakes.  Bed and breakfasts dot the region as do campgrounds. If you fall in love with the area there are plenty of realtors who'll gladly sell you a home.

THE ELEVEN FINGER LAKES:

Canadice
Conesus
Cayuga
Canandaigua
Honeoye
Hemlock
Keuka
Otisco
Owasco
Seneca
Skaneateles

Real Estate in the Finger Lakes:
www.fingerlakesproperty.com

Oct 7, 2013

"The Bronx Medley" A Legendary New York Borough

If you have two days to spare follow this "Bronx Medley."





Day One:

Take a bus, subway, or taxi to the Bronx Zoo and enjoy one of the largest zoos in America. Afterwards visit the New York Botanical Garden and connect with horticulture. Head over to Wave Hill and relax on the grounds of the public gardens and cultural center. Craving pizza? Little Italy on Arthur Avenue is the answer. Giovanni makes delicious pizza that has been enjoyed by such famous folks as the New York governor and the late Mother Teresa.

Day Two:

Chances are that you've been so smitten by the old fashioned Italian neighborhood of "Little Italy" that you want to return. No worries there's plenty to do in the Belmont section of the Bronx known as Arthur Avenue's Little Italy. The Arthur Avenue Retail Market sells everything from hand rolled cigars to fresh pasta. Over at De Lillo's Pastry Shop you can fix your sugar cravings with marvelous desserts. (The cannoli's here are some of the best in all of New York City). Have a cup of cappuccino at Caffe Reggio "home to the original cappuccino." Spend a bit of time in the charming upper middle class neighborhood of Riverdale then head to City Island a 1.5 mile small island surrounded by water that feels like a piece of New England (think Maine or Rhode Island). Have a seafood meal at The Original Club Shanty before heading to Yankee Stadium to watch the New York Yankees play some serious baseball.

The Original Cub Shanty
361 City Island Avenue

Arthur Avenue Retail Market
2344 Arthur Avenue

Cafe Reggio
119 MacDougal Street

De Lillo's
606 East 187th Street

Giovanni's Pizza
2343 Arthur Avenue




Oct 6, 2013

Brooklyn (Rocks) as a New York Borough!

Brooklyn, the most populated borough in New York City really rocks.







There are more famous Americans born in Brooklyn than anywhere else:

Woody Allen, actor and filmmaker
Paul Auster, author
Lauren Bacall, actress
Mel Brooks, director & writer
Tony Danza, entertainer
Harvy Eisenstat, Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher
George Gershwin, composer
Mos Def, rapper
Alyssa Milano, actress
Willie Randolph Jr, New York Mets manager
Joan River, comedienne
Jerry Seinfeld, comedian
Barbra Streisand, singer
Joe Torre, New York Yankees manager
Mae West, actress

and a whole LOT more!

PLUS these are just a handful of things to love about B R O O K L Y N..................

Bay Ridge
Bensonhurst
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Brighton Beach
Carroll Gardens Historic District
Coney Island & Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park
Dumbo
Greenwood Cemetery
Junior's Cheesecake
Manhattan Beach
Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs
New York Aquarium
New York Transit Museum
Park Slope
Prospect Park
Red Hook
Williamsburg
Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

BROOKLYN is a great borough to live in and a great borough to visit.

A heartfelt hello to my former neighborhood; Bay Ridge. I loved living in Bay Ridge.












Manhattan's Upper West Side (Adrianna's To Do List for the UWS)

___________________________________________________________________________
The Upper West Side (UWS) for short, is a terrific neighborhood. I arrived her one January day to audition for the American Musical & Dramatic Academy all the way from Michigan. I didn't really plan on staying for long but as luck turns out I got accepted into the American Musical & Dramatic Academy and my first apartment was on the Upper West Side. Since than I've lived in quite a few neighborhoods but the Upper West Side is where my heart will always belong.
___________________________________________________________________________

With Central Park on one side and Riverside Park on the other, the Upper West Side is one of the most sought after neighborhoods in Manhattan. It's not unusual to see a celebrity dining in one of the area restaurants or to hear the sounds of "Juilliard"students displaying their musical talents from their apartment.  This terrific neighborhood has everything from cozy cafes to the famous Metropolitan Opera.






A D R I A N N A 'S    LIST OF THINGS TO DO ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE:

Get a ticket for a taping of "The Chew" "Live with Kelly & MIchael" or "The View" filmed at ABC Television, go on a shopping spree at "Shops at Columbus Circle."

Spend a day with the family at the "American Museum of Natural History" and afterwards see a space show at Hayden Planetarium."

Take a tour of the "Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts" famous for the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center Theater, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, School of American Ballet, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Juilliard School.

Devote an hour or two at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts.

Walk down Central Park West and marvel at all the expensive real estate. "The Dakota" which opened in 1884 is a chateau style residence building with lots of celebrity residents.

Hit the American Folk Art Museum and The Cloisters Museum. If you have kids let them have fun at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

Enjoy the outdoors at Riverside Park a waterfront public park on the Hudson River. There's the Hudson River Greenway for bicycling and jogging, basketball courts, tennis courts, soccer fields, volleyball courts and free use of kayaks. The Eleanor Roosevelt Monument and Grant's Tomb are both inside Riverside Park.

2121 Broadway (STEPS) is where to watch the best dance steps by dancers taking a class.

Stroll down Amsterdam, Broadway, and Columbus Avenue all great for bars, restaurants, and shopping.

Stock up on gourmet food at Fairway 2127 Broadway and Zabars 2245 Broadway. This is where New Yorker's love to shop.

Have dessert and coffee at a European cafe called Cafe Lalo 201 West 83rd Street. Peer through the adorable French windows.

Order a hot dog and papaya juice at Gray's Papaya 2090 Broadway. They're open 24/7.

Visit the GreenFlea Market at 100 West 77th Street and observe what the vendors are selling.

Look at all the lovely brownstones that are scattered throughout the Upper West Side. See if there's a "For Rent" sign in any of the windows.

The Upper West Side has comedy clubs, jazz clubs, and plenty of bars and restaurants to make your nightlife stimulating.

BARS:

Bourbon Street: 407 Amsterdam
Cleopatra's Needle: 2485 Broadway (great jazz music)
Jake's Dilemma: 430 Amsterdam
Shalel Lounge: 65 West 70th Street
The West 79th Street Boat Basin Cafe (A thrilling experience)

COMEDY CLUB:

Stand Up New York: 236 West 78th Street has comics that will have you laughing your heart out.


Jazz CLubs:

Dizzy's Club Coca Cola: 10 Columbus Circle

Smoke: 2751 Broadway

RESTAURANTS:


Ayurveda Cafe: 706 Amsterdam has a Zen-like atmosphere with outstanding Indian vegetarian food.
Barney Greengrass:  541 Amsterdam is a popular Jewish deli.
Candle Cafe:  24 Broadway has a "vegan" menu.
Dovetail: 103 Wes 77th Street is known for contemporary American dishes.
Gennaro: 665 Amsterdam has some of the best Italian food in Manhattan.
Hunan Park: 721 Columbus has the best Chinese food.
Per Se: 10 Columbus Avenue is the place to eat first class French cuisine.
Picholine: 35 West 64th Street serves tasty French dishes.
PorterHouse: 10 Columbus Circle is one of many great New York steakhouses.
Sushi Yasaka: Japanese f251 West 72nd Street has tastyood.
Telepan: 72 West 69th Street is the place to indulge in marvelous contemporary American cuisine.




Sep 24, 2013

A Chocolate Haven in Soho (New York)





When in Soho be certain to enter the doors of 350 Hudson Street. This is where you'll find the most irresistible chocolate desserts created by a genius pastry chef named Jacques Torres. French born Jacques Torres is known as "Mr Chocolate" and anyone who tries his chocolates dreams of eating them again and again.

The first Jacques Torres opened in Brooklyn's neighborhood known as Dumbo. This is where the chocolate factory is located and where spectators can watch delectable chocolate treats being made from the windows. The adorable shop is filled with chocolate treasures. There's a cafe with tables for those that want to indulge in tasty treats right there and then.

The Soho "Jacques Torres" is also very magical and is definitely worth visiting for an unforgettable chocolate experience. These are just some of the treats to be found; big daddy bars, champagne truffles, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, ice cream sandwiches and incredible hot chocolate.

"Wicked" hot chocolate is a combination of cocoa, all spice, cinnamon, and chili peppers. One sip of Jacques Torres "hot chocolate"and you'll be hooked for sure. Luckily the hot chocolate mix can be purchased in tins. 

The choice of chocolate fillings are a list of bliss; ganache infused flavors such as chai, espresso, mint, red wine, raspberry, key lime or orange. How about peanut butter filled milk chocolate or dark covered pistachio marzipan? What about chocolate covered almonds or marshmallows?  It all can be found at Jacques Torres.


                                       A Sampling of  Jacques Torres delicious chocolates!

Jacques Torres (Soho)
350 Hudson Street
New York, New York
(212) 414-2462

Adrianna's Orange Truffles:

21 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped into small pieces
2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces orange liqueur

Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan for about three minutes. Add the butter and chocolate and let the mixture melt and thicken. Remove from heat and cool the mixture for five minutes, then add the orange liqueur. Mix gently and place the mixture in the refrigerator for one hour until it completely cools.

Once the chocolate mixture (ganache) is cooled scoop it out with a metal spoon and shape it into small to medium sized balls depending on how small or large you want your truffles to be.

Roll the truffle balls in cocoa powder or finely chopped pistachio nuts and place them on a plate. 

Enjoy your truffles one at a time and if there's any leftovers keep them in the refrigerator.

JACQUES TORRES (WEBSITE)
Check out all the wonderful treats you can purchase on-line at "Jacques Torres."




Sep 18, 2013

Hanging out in Soho (Oh, So Cool)

New York City consists of five amazing boroughs; Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan. Every borough has unique things to offer but MANHATTAN is where a lot of the action takes place. With so many neighborhoods to explore even New Yorkers can't always catch up with the hot local spots. Manhattan's neighborhoods are so diverse and exciting that it's worth to hit every neighborhood in a New York minute or New York day.

As a concierge for a major hotel in Manhattan it was my job to know New York like the back of my hand. To this very day it's hard for me to pick my favorite Manhattan neighborhood because I'm partial to all of them. One neighborhood that's really cool to hang out in is Soho. Nestled between the West & East Village, Little Italy, and Nolita, SOHO has a multitude of trendy bars, restaurants, and shops. Once a haven for artists this expensive neighborhood with cobblestone streets is where you'll find art galleries, spacious lofts, and ultra cool hotels. 

So if you find yourself in SOHO put these places on your BUCKET LIST:
___________________________________________________________



___________________________________________________________

Lombardi's Pizzeria, 32 Spring Street (just on the edge of Soho) 
America's first pizzeria which has been open since 1905 has amazing tasting pizza!

Dean & Deluca, 560 Broadway is a cafe & gourmet market where food rules. 

Aquagrill (Seafood), Balthazar (French), Blue Ribbon Sushi (Japanese), David Burke Kitchen (American), Il Corallo (Italian), Kittichai (Thai) are popular restaurants for dining. The top chefs of tomorrow are in training at L'Ecole, 462 Broadway (French Culinary Institute).

Lani Kai 525 Broome Street, Merc Bar 151 Mercer, and Pegu Club 77 West Houston are good spots for a drink.

Bloomingdale's Department Store, Adidas, Bebe, Guess, H & M, Kate Spade, Prada, and Ugg are just a few big name places to shop in Soho.

The Hat Shop (hats galore), Kiosk (for inexpensive items from around the world) and Yellow Rat Bastard (urban and vintage clothing) are independent shops that are a Soho standout.

Attractions in Soho to check out: City Winery, Curt Marcus Gallery, The Drawing Center, Jen Bekman Gallery, New York City Fire Musuem, The Swiss Institute, and Westwood Gallery.

For pampering and relaxation Bliss 568 Broadway and Soho Sanctuary 119 Mercer are highly respected spas.

Whether you come to Soho to drink, eat, shop, or people watch you'll find SOHO to be a cool neighborhood.

Soho Hotel's

Crosby Street Hotel, 79 Crosby Street
The James, 27 Grand Street
The Mercer, 147 Mercer Street                                        
Mondrian Soho, 30 West Broadway
60 Thompson, 60 Thompson Street
Soho Grand Hotel, 310 West Broadway







Sep 13, 2013

Inside Schroon Lake (A Sweet Summer Place)








Adirondack chairs, beaches, boating, fresh air, hiking trails, pine trees, performing arts, serenity, solitude, relaxation...these are just a few of the things synonymous with Schroon Lake!



                  


Stepping into the town of Schroon Lake on a warm summer day is like stepping inside a Norman Rockwell painting. For some reason time stands still in this small town in upstate New York where the fragrant smell of Adirondack pine trees and the calming waters of the lake make everything feel so clean and pure.


The hilly terrain of Schroon Lake Town Beach is the perfect place to read a book or have a picnic. There's also a gazebo, and tennis courts. Lifeguards are on duty daily during the summer months and one couldn't ask for a more refreshing body of water to swim in. There are plenty of places to park near the town beach but if you're staying in or around Schroon Lake you'll soon find out that it's a pedestrian friendly town that's fun to walk around.


One of my favorite places to stock up on food is TOP'S supermarket (the former Grand Union). Pick up some ready made salads and tasty cheese from the deli, a box of crackers and a bottle of Adirondack sparkling water and find a picnic table at Schroon Lake Town Beach and enjoy the beautiful view of the lake and mountains while eating. Afterwards treat yourself to an ice cream cone at Stewart's shop where ice cream rules; Adirondack Bear Paw, Amaretto Chocolate Almond, Blueberry Patch, Carmel Cone Crunch, Espresso Therapy, & Mousse Trail are just some of the flavors that will lure you in for a scoop or two of some of the best ice cream in all of New York State. 




Schroon Lake's Main Street (Highway 9) has on old fashioned feel to it and is perfect for dining and shopping. Established in 1881 The Town Store sells loads of unique items. They also rent canoes and kayaks. Schroon Lakes Antiques has great 20th century merchandise for sale. There's even a mini Christmas tree in the antique shop with interesting ornaments. (You can make your Christmas wish in front of the tree).


Locals can often be spotted at Flanagan's Pub & Grill where the beer and food rarely disappoint customers. Morningstar Cafe named after the 1950's movie Marjorie Morningstar which was filmed in Schroon Lake is super cozy. It's owned by a French lady who certainly knows how to please her patrons with yummy foods like homemade crepes and sandwiches. For barbecue food that tastes like it was made right in Tennessee Mr. P's Mountain Smokehouse is the place to be. Everything from the pulled pork to the mac and cheese is awesome. They serve lots of side dishes and mouth-watering desserts. I'd eat at Mr. P's Mountain Smokehouse every week if I lived in Schroon Lake. The owner is one of the nicest and best chefs in all of the Adirondacks and he went out of his way to make my friend and me feel welcome in his restaurant.


Next to the public library on Leland Street is the Schroon Lake Farmers Market where crafty folks and farmers sell their goods. The samples of food are mighty generous and I still can remember the sample of that blueberry crumble cake and homemade peanut butter and jam. 
Lots of cute and historic homes are nestled throughout Schroon Lake and those that summer here are truly blessed.

Schroon Lake's cultural scene is very stimulating. The Seagle Music Company has the oldest summer vocal training program in the United States. You can count on first rate musical theater and opera performances by young performing artists from around the country. Two other places for performing arts are the Boathouse Theatre and Strand Theatre.


Schroon Lake is a vacation destination so there's all kinds of places to stay; campgrounds, cabins, bed & breakfasts, motels and even a Christian conference center and hotel known as Word of Life. Owned by a Hungarian couple Kish Duna Motels & Cabins is where I stay when I'm in Schroon Lake. With a private beach and furnished cabins it's an affordable place to stay. They have nightly bonfires and it's fun to talk to the other guests and roast marshmallows and make S'Mores (chocolate, graham crackers, and melted marshmallows) mmmmmh, so good. The swimming at Kish Duna's private beach is out of this world. I feel like a mermaid swimming at dawn, midday, and in the dark.


Oh Norman Rockwell if you were still alive I know you'd paint a perfect picture of Schroon Lake. How sweet it is to know that there's still a place where things are done a lot simpler and where tranquility still exists.



Sep 9, 2013

New York State (The State of Plenty)

NEW YORK STATE is certainly the state of plenty. It contains 6 million acres of unspoiled wilderness, has one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, offers incredible hiking in the Adirondack Mountains, boasts hundreds of freshwater lakes for boating and swimming, and has plenty of seashore on Long Island. It's one of the few states in America that offers outstanding public transportation and pedestrian friendly cities and towns. 

New York State attracts people from all over the world that come to see the stunning Niagara Falls, tour the Catskill Mountain region, eat chicken wings in Buffalo, and marvel at the wonders of metropolis New York City. No matter what region of New York State you visit chances are you'll be smitten by this amazing state that has plenty to offer residents and tourists alike.

Having lived and worked in New York City and other parts of the state I consider myself a New Yorker. I cherish this state with all my heart. So join me as I share the secrets and wonders of NEW YORK STATE; the state of plenty. 




COMING UP: Shroon Lake; A town that feels like you've stepped inside a Norman Rockwell painting and New York City; Concierge Style!

                

Sep 5, 2013

Bergen to Oslo on a Budget

NORWAY is expensive no doubt about it that's why I worked a short term job there which fortunately provided me with free housing. I made some Norwegian friends while in Kristiansand and after finishing my three month commitment of work I was invited to camp in Bergen with my friends. They had a caravan so we spent three days in Bergen camping and enjoying the outdoors.

BERGEN is the land of fjords. A fjord is a long narrow deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs typically fomred by sumbergence of a glaciated valley. Fjords are stunning in appearance so have your camera or smart phone ready for taking pictures. BERGEN is an outdoor's paradise and although there are plenty of hotels and bed & breakfasts to choose from camping is the way to go when in Bergen. Two of my favorite campgrounds are Bergan Camping Park and Grimen Motell & Camping AS. You'll definately be in tune with nature when staying at one of these places.

The top attractions in Bergen are Floibanen, a fabulous journey to to top of Mount Floyen, Hardangerfjord, Bergen Fish Market, and Mount Ulriken.

NORWAY is known for trolls and they can be found all over the country as a statue. A troll is a fearsome member of a number of creatures from Norwegian mythology. Many fairytales and illustrations have made trolls known as frightening creatures.    


                                                            Norwegian Trolls


Oslo the capital of Norway is a cosmopolitan city. The Oslo Tourist Information Centre by City Hall is a useful place to start your visit in Oslo. It's open 365 days a year and has a friendly and experienced staff . The Oslo Pass gives you free entry to more than 30 attractions and museums, free walking tours, free public transportation travel, free entry to outdoor swimming pools and more. The Oslo Pass is valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

My favorite budget accommodations are the Anker Hostel at Storgata 55, westside N-0182 Oslo, and Thon Hotel Munch at Munchsgate 5, 0130 Oslo. There's so much to see and do in Oslo that one week might not be enough. Below are some attractions not to miss:

OSLO ATTRACTIONS:

Skiing (in winter)
Outdoor swimming in a fjord, lake, or public swimming pool (in summer)
Akerhus Castle
Botanical Garden
Film Museum
Fram Museum; The Polar Ship Farm
Norwegian Museum of Science & Technology                    
Oslo Opera House
TusenFryd Amusement Park
Viking Ship Museum

Although an expensive country NORWAY is beautiful and an outdoors paradise. There are ways to enjoy this splendid Scandinavian country on a budget. So don't miss out on NORWAY.




Aug 30, 2013

A day or two in Stavanger







After three months of working in Kristiansand I had my heart set on spending a few days in Bergen but before getting to Bergen I was rewarded with a full day in Stavanger. A blend of beaches, culture, and mountains Stavanger is often associated with the title "oil city" because offshore oil was discovered here back in 1969. The fourth largest city in Norway, Stavanger attracts visitors from around the globe.

A guided walk or hop on, hop off bus tour is a good way to tour Stavanger. If an escorted tour doesn't appeal to you there are many attractions to visit. Start with the Norwegian Petroleum Museum and than check out "Old Stavanger" a mix of of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century. The Mosvangen Park is a good spot to relax and enjoy the greenery. Other popular attractions are the Canning Museum. Stavanger Maritime Museum, Stavanger Cathedral, Norwegian Emigration Centre and the Iron Age Farm. An interesting side excursion is the Utstein Monastery. This monastery was once the royal estate of Norway's first king; King Harold Fairhair.

Whether you're seeking extravagant accommodations and dining options or something more middle of the road or budget, Stavanger offers it all. 

High End Hotels:

Rica Park Hotel                                        Victoria Hotel
Prestagardsbakken 1                                   Skansegaten 1
                            

Moderate Priced Hotels:

Thon Hotel Maritim                                  Myhregaarden Hotel
Kongsgaten 32                                             Nygaten 23
  
                                             
Cheap Hotels:

Skansen Hotel                                             Comfort Hotel
Skansegaten 7                                              Klubbgaten 3
                                                   
          
                                          

Worth the Splurge Restaurant:

Straen Fisherestaurant
is regarded as one of the best seafood restaurants in Norway!

Moderate Priced Restaurant:

Gaffel & Karaffel
specializes in Norwegian specialities with a Continental flair.

Budget:

Cafe Sting
serves a variety of international dishes at affordable prices.



                                                     Norwegians love their seafood dishes                                                      

Aug 27, 2013

Three Months in NORWAY







Kristiansand, NORWAY



When I arrived in Norway at the beginning of June to start my summer job at a vacation farm in Kristiansand I had no idea what was in store for me. The Norwegian farmer who owned the farm put me up in a small house that he once lived in with his wife and son. I couldn't believe that I was given a whole house to myself but within a week I felt that I earned the perk of living in that cozy Norwegian house. Each morning I was up by 7:00 am to have breakfast and start my workday. I worked seven days a week with no days off but  I didn't mind, after all I was in beautiful NORWAY surrounded by the sea. People from around NORWAY came to the farm on a mini vacation. There were cabins to rent on the premises and a lake nearby for boating and swimming. I had plenty of chickens, cows, goats, and pigs to take care of in addition to all the other tasks that keep a farm running. Often I would take guests on tours of the farm and help host the picnics that we held each week. The farm had acres and acres of land but it was the farmers grand palace sitting on top of a hill glistening from all angles that caught the eye of everyone. 


I worked with a brother and sister from Poland on the farm. We worked hard and got along very well. Once in a while the farmer took us on a boat ride on his luxury boat and sometimes we were invited to his grand palace for a Norwegian dinner. This wealthy farmer expected us to work a lot. I think he was pleased with us workers for the most part. It was easy to stay thin that summer because all that physical work kept the calories burning. 

June, July, and August (Three Months in Norway) to explore a little bit of this and that. Yes! I did work seven days a week but there was always an hour or two each day to get away from the workload and explore Kristiansand. To sum it up this region of Norway with its rolling hills, open space and seacoast was very easy to embrace. 





Biking around the region is one of the best thrills because the scenery is stunning and there's always someplace to stop like the local market for some shrimp, or a swim in the sea. With so much water around boating is a popular attraction so whether you prefer a relaxing ride on a motor boat or a more intense exercise on a canoe, kayak, or paddle board you can count on lots of water, water, everywhere. Fishing is popular with Norwegians and when the fishing boats come to the harbor spectators often marvel at the catch of the day. Norwegians are big fans of seafood; fish cakes, mackeral, shrimp, and smoked salmon are on sale everywhere. Filet of moose, cheese, chocolate, and fresh fruits are other Norwegian favorites.

Ravnedalen is a lovely a park to explore. One of the most popular beaches in Kristiansand is Hamresanden. It's one of the best beaches in all of Norway. For culture the Vest-Agder is an interesting museum. Other attractions are the waterfall in nearby Boen, an amusement park and zoo called Dyrepark and the Agder Theater. Kristiansand also boasts some pretty lighthouses. The Kristiansand region is known for its entertaining festivals, pretty harbors, rocky coast, white wooden houses and outdoor activities. No matter where you choose to spend your time, Kristiansand is bound to please. You'll also be pleased with this cake recipe!

Mor Monsen Cake is a traditional cake that's been around for decades. I usually made this tasty cake for the farm picnics. It's a crowd pleaser at anytime of year.

MOR MUNSEN CAKE 





8 oz of pure Norwegian unsalted butter, 8 oz of sugar, 1 cup chopped blanched almonds, 5 eggs, 1 cup chopped currants, 8 oz unbleached white flour.

Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. Add the flour gradually. Pour the mixture into a greased large shallow baking pan and smooth out the mixture with a spatula. Sprinkle almonds and currants on top of the mixture. Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 300 degrees. When cake is lukewarm cut it into squares. This tasty cake can be served on plates on napkins.  Yummy!


After my three month working stint on the Kristiansand farm I spent a week exploring Stavanger, Bergen, and Oslo. Stay tune for my upcoming post "Stavanger to Oslo Norway in a Week"




Jul 27, 2013

N O R W A Y ( AN OUTDOORS PARADISE)

                                                      N O R W A Y

Back when I was in performing arts school one of my classmates sang a beautiful song from an operetta called "Song of Norway."  At that time I never imagined myself going to Norway but a couple of years later "Norway" was beckoning  to me and I knew I just had to go there.

I went to the local library and checked out a book called "International Job Guide." I was thrilled when I found a listing of temporary jobs in Norway. I applied with an organization in Oslo and a few weeks later a farmer from Kristiansand contacted me about a three month position working on his farm resort. I would work about 40 hours a week and in exchange I would get to live in a beautiful house near the sea with my own room, have home cooked meals and get paid a weekly salary. How could I refuse an offer like that? So off to Norway I went.

Norway is clean and safe, the people are friendly, the food is fresh and delicious, the scenery is stunning, there are lots of outdoor activities to enjoy but Norway is an expensive country. I guess that's the price one has to pay to live in a country that's practically perfect.

In my next post I'll write about all the things to see and do in Scandinavian NORWAY.

Jul 21, 2013

M E X I C O.....OH....M E X I C O

North America's M E X I C O is an enchanting country full of wonders. There are archeological sites, beautiful beaches, desert landscapes, jungle settings, and mighty mountains not to mention mouth-watering cuisine and great tequila. This is the country that gets lots of college students during their spring break hanging out at the beach and honeymoon couples enjoying a romantic vacation. Whether you come here to explore the excitement of Mexico City or swing in a hammock at one of the popular beach resorts. MEXICO is synonymous with vacation.

So where do you head first? Well if the beach is on your mind "Cancun" is a very good choice. Here the waters are turquoise and the sun as warm as fresh made tortillas. Cancun is full of hotels and resorts that stand in front of the Caribbean Sea. Just be certain to wear lots of sunscreen because it's very easy to get sunburned the first few days (I can attest to this having gotten sunburned the day after I arrived in Cancun). The highlight in Cancun is the abundance of sports that revolve around water. There's swimming and snorkeling of course but not to be missed is a boat ride. Whether it's a small boat or a ferry there's something very soothing about gliding across the calm turquoise waters of Cancun's Caribbean Sea.

Cozumel a small island is one of Mexico's most famous destinations. Here's you'll find lighthouses, fantastic scuba diving and snorkeling. There's also Chankanaab National Park where you can swim with dolphins and witness a landlocked pool connected to the sea through an underwater tunnel. A good option in Cozumel is an "all inclusive vacation" which includes lodging, meals, and activities for a set price. Other popular beach resorts in Mexico are;  Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, and Tulum.

Mexico City one of the most populated cities in the world struggles with air pollution but it's a very exciting city that shouldn't be missed. With first rate public transportation getting around Mexico City is quite easy. If you have a few days in Mexico City visit 1) Casa de los Azulejos, 2) Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe, 3) Bazar del Sabado (Saturday market), 4) Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, 5) Palacio Nacional and the Diego Rivera Murals and 6) Cathedral Metropolitana. After a relaxing siesta take advantage of Mexico City's performing arts scene and enjoy world class ballet, music concerts, opera and theater. The Pyramids of  San Juan Teotihuacan about 30 miles from Mexico City are one of the most important ruins in the world. Allow yourself a full day to explore the palaces & pyramids of San Juan Teotihuacan.

I love Mexican food and I thank the Mexican people for creating such delicious tasting food. When in Mexico be sure to try tacos, tamales, tortillas, and salsa. Mexico has plenty of fresh avocados, chilies, corn, papaya, and tomatoes. These foods are used daily in Mexican cooking. Another standout is the great beer, coffee and tequila. Incidentally the Mexicans are the highest consumers of the soda drink "Coke/Coco Cola."

So learn some Spanish, bring along some pesos and explore enchanting MEXICO!

For more information on the country of Mexico visit the website Mexico Tourism.

www.visitmexico.com


A d r i a n n a 's   F a v o r i t e   G u a c a m o l e

3 ripe avocados
1 ripe tomato, cut into small pieces
juice from 1 lime
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 minced chili (remove seeds and stem)

Scoop out three ripe avocados and mash with a fork, add lime juice, cilantro, chilies, and tomato. Mix gently in a medium size bowl. Serve guacamole with tortilla chips or use the guacamole as a quesadilla filling.




Jul 12, 2013

SMALL BUT GRAND MONACO

                                
                                   M O N A C O       



When American actress Grace Kelly attended the Cannes Film Festival in 1955 she probably never thought she'd meet Prince Rainer of Monaco, fall in love and get married but like a Hollywood love story the beauty got her prince and her marriage to the prince in 1956 was a world wide event.

Monaco's tourism boomed after the marriage of Prince Rainer and Grace Kelly. Visitors still flock to the small but grand Monaco to enjoy its attractions. Monaco a relic of medieval Europe is the second smallest country in the world with a population of about 35,000. Monaco sits on the French Mediterranean coast near Nice and is roughly 499 acres in size. The big attraction is the Monte-Carlo Casino and Opera House but there are also other places to visit.

M O N A C O   (THINGS TO SEE)

Monte-Carlo Casino and Opera House

Prince's Palace

Le "Rocher the Rock"

Fort Antoine

Oceanographic Museum

Monaco Cathedral


Monaco neighbors are France and Italy, both of these countries are in such close proximity that one can easily make a day trip to one of the lovely coastal towns of France or Italy. Below is a listing of lodging and restaurant options in Monaco.

LODGING OPTIONS:

Hotel Hermitage offers lots of pampering and is located in the heart of Monte Carlo.
www.brasseriedemonacohttp://www.hotelhermitagemontecarlo.com/?xts=44280&xtor=SEC-957-GOO-[Hotel-Hermitage%2f+Monaco+(%2b)]-[]-[S]-[%2bmonaco+%2bhermitage+%2bhotel]&xtdt=22894086 

Feel like King Louis XV at the opulent Hotel de Paris http://www.hoteldeparismontecarlo.com/?xts=44280&xtor=SEC-5365-MSN-Hotel-de-Paris/MonteCarloexact-hoteldeparismontecarlo-S&xtdt=22894120

Airbnbwww.airbnb.com.airbnb.com/   If you prefer a home-stay check out all the local people renting out private rooms in Monaco. Rates tend to be lower than in hotels with AIRBNB.

RESTAURANTS:

Avenue 31
Bilig Cafe
Brasserie Cafe De Paris
Elsa
Joel Robuchon
Le Bureau
Le Circus

Whether you're seeking traditional French fare or other ethnic specialities Monaco has a variety of restaurants to choose from; crepes to steak, salads to pizza. fresh seafood to burgers. There's something for everyone.

Although expensive MONACO makes a great travel destination whether you come for a day, a week, or a month.




The Belgian Chocolate Connoisseur

Belgium , a culinary masterpiece where food is at it's finest in Central Europe. Belgium where the land is fertile and the sea beck...