Prague (Czech: Praha), Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic, a magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes, has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten cen

Prague (Praha in Czech), Czech Republic, a magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes, has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten centuries; this view of the 1402 pedestrian Charles Bridge was taken just after sunrise from our hotel room

 

Prague (Czech: Praha), capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River.  Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show.  Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with statues of Catholic saints.  Prague, with a population of about 1.2 million, is one of the largest cities of Central Europe and has served as the capital of the historic region of Bohemia for centuries.  The city is famous for its unique medieval architecture, and the historical center of Prague is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

 

Prague, Czech Republic, with a population of about 1.2 million, is one of the largest cities of Central Europe and has served as the capital of the historic region of Bohemia for centuri

Prague, Czech Republic, with a population of about 1.2 million, is one of the largest cities of Central Europe and has served as the capital of the historic region of Bohemia for centuries

 

Prague, Czech Republic, thrived under the rule of Charles IV, who ordered the building of the New Town in the 14th century - many of the city's most important attractions date back to th

Prague, Czech Republic, thrived under the rule of Charles IV, who ordered the building of the New Town in the 14th century – many of the city’s most important attractions date back to that age; Prague Castle, on top of the hill (with its church and spires) remains one of the top attractions in the city

 

“This magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes, has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten centuries.  Almost undamaged by WWII, Prague’s medieval centre remains a wonderful mixture of cobbled lanes, walled courtyards, cathedrals and countless church spires all in the shadow of her majestic 9th century castle that looks eastward as the sun sets behind her.  Prague is also a modern and vibrant city full of energy, music, cultural art, fine dining and special events catering to the independent traveler’s thirst for adventure.

“It is regarded by many as one of Europe’s most charming, colorful and beautiful cities, Prague has become the most popular travel destination in Central Europe along with Vienna and Krakow. Millions of tourists visit the city every year.

“Prague was founded in the later 9th century, and soon became the seat of Bohemian kings, some of whom ruled as emperors of the Holy Roman Empire.  The city thrived under the rule of Charles IV, who ordered the building of the New Town in the 14th century — many of the city’s most important attractions date back to that age.  The city also went under Habsburg rule and became the capital of a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  In 1918, after World War I, the city became the capital of Czechoslovakia.  After 1989 many foreigners, especially young people, moved to Prague.  In 1992, its historic centre was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two countries and Prague became capital city of the new Czech Republic.” – http://www.wikitravel.org

 

We arrived in Prague, Czech Republic, from Vienna, Austria, by high speed rail and our first sight of the city was this beautiful main hall of the Art-Nouveau train station, Praha hlavni

We arrived in Prague, Czech Republic, from Vienna, Austria, by high speed rail and our first sight of the city was this beautiful main hall of the Art-Nouveau train station, Praha hlavní nádraží, that first operated in 1871 and is named Franz Josef Station after Franz Joseph I of Austria

 

One of Europe_s biggest and most beautiful urban spaces, Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short) has been Prague_s principal public square since the

One of Europe’s biggest and most beautiful urban spaces, Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short) has been Prague’s principal public square since the 10th century, and was its main marketplace until the beginning of the 20th century

 

Kinsky Palace is one of the older buildings in Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic; note that all of Old Town in Czech is St

Kinsky Palace is one of the older buildings in Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic; note that all of Old Town in Czech is Staré Město pražské (Staré Město for short)

 

Týn Church and its spires and the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

Týn Church and its spires and the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

 

The Church of Mother of God before Týn, often translated as Church of Our Lady before Týn (Týn Church), is a gothic church and a dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague, Czech R

The Church of Mother of God before Týn, often translated as Church of Our Lady before Týn (Týn Church), is a Gothic church and a dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague, Czech Republic

 

Architectural and decorative details on one of the buildings in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

Architectural and decorative details on one of the buildings in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

 

The oldest surviving residential-commercial building in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short) dates from around 1400, Prague, Czech Republic

The oldest surviving residential/commercial building in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short) dates from around 1400, Prague, Czech Republic; the famous astronomical clock (covered in scaffolding for renovations during our visit) dates to 1410 (making it the third oldest astronomical clock in the world) and the Old Town Hall gothic tower was constructed in 1364

 

The art glass at Moser (in Prague, Czech Republic, since 1857) is regarded as some of the best in Poland and Europe; their main retail store is in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské n

The art glass at Moser (in Prague, Czech Republic, since 1857) is regarded as some of the best in Poland and Europe; their main retail store is in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short)

 

Beautiful architectural and ornamental details on an old building in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

Beautiful architectural and ornamental details on an old building in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

 

Havelské Tržišteē (Havel_s Market) in Old Town (Staré Město pražské) Prague, Czech Republic, dates back to 1232

Havelské Tržišteē (Havel’s Market) in Old Town (Staré Město pražské) Prague, Czech Republic, dates back to 1232

 

Trdelnik is one of the most common pastries to find on Prague_s streets; the pastry was originally known as kurtsoskalacs and hailed from Szekely Land, Transylvania — home of the Sze

Trdelnik is one of the most common pastries to find on Prague’s streets; the pastry was originally known as kurtsoskalacs and hailed from Szekely Land, Transylvania — home of the Szekely Hungarians

 

Musicians playing for the walkers on the pedestrian Charles Bridge in the early evening, Prague, Czech Republic

Musicians playing for the walkers on the pedestrian Charles Bridge in the early evening, Prague, Czech Republic

 

An early evening view of the central east bank of the Vltava River in Prague, Czech Republic, from the pedestrian Charles Bridge

An early evening view of the central east bank of the Vltava River in Prague, Czech Republic, from the pedestrian Charles Bridge

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Luncheon We Prepared at Cooking School in Marrakech, Morocco

The intrepid explorer prepared to enjoy a tasty luncheon from our cooking class at La Maison Arabe, Marrakech, Morocco

The intrepid explorer prepared to enjoy a tasty luncheon from our cooking class at La Maison Arabe, Marrakech, Morocco

 

After our cooking class at a private Moroccan cooking workshop at a local riad, La Maison Arabe hotel and restaurant, we moved to a dining room, with a local musician playing, to enjoy the “fruits of our labors” for lunch [see our previous blog post].  The luncheon was one of the tastiest meals we had in Marrakech!  It included two tagines – vegetables and a chicken tagine with preserved lemon slices and green olives, traditional Moroccan flatbread, as well as a cold zucchini salad, warm eggplant salad and dessert.

 

The dining room for the cooking school had bookcases full of spices and books on Morocco and Marrakech; at the luncheon from our cooking class at La Maison Arabe. Marrakech, Morocco

The dining room for the cooking school had bookcases full of spices and books on Morocco and Marrakech; at the luncheon from our cooking class at La Maison Arabe. Marrakech, Morocco

 

Our luncheon from our cooking class at La Maison Arabe included two tagines – vegetables and a chicken tagine with preserved lemon slices and green olives, traditional Moroccan flatbre

Our luncheon from our cooking class at La Maison Arabe included two tagines – vegetables and a chicken tagine with preserved lemon slices and green olives, traditional Moroccan flatbread, as well as a cold zucchini salad, warm eggplant salad and dessert, Marrakech, Morocco

 

A local musician playing a traditional Moroccan stringed instrument at our luncheon from our cooking class at La Maison Arabe, Marrakech, Morocco

A local musician playing a traditional Moroccan stringed instrument at our luncheon from our cooking class at La Maison Arabe, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Woven tagine covers on display in the dining room at our luncheon from our cooking class at La Maison Arabe, Marrakech, Morocco

Woven tagine covers on display in the dining room at our luncheon from our cooking class at La Maison Arabe, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

 

Marrakech, Morocco

The most beautiful approach to Koutoubia Mosque is via the Koutoubia Gardens and the fountain, Marrakech, Morocco; construction of the mosque began between 1147 and 1154 and was complete

The most beautiful approach to Koutoubia Mosque is via the Koutoubia Gardens and the fountain, Marrakech, Morocco; construction of the mosque began between 1147 and 1154 and was completed in 1157

 

Marrakesh, a former imperial city in western Morocco, is a major economic center and home to mosques, palaces and gardens.  The medina is a densely packed, walled medieval city dating to the Berber Empire, with mazelike alleys where thriving souks (marketplaces) sell traditional textiles, pottery and jewelry.  Today Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco (after Casablanca, Fez and Tangier) with a population approaching one million.  “Red baked-mud medina palaces beneath the snow-capped High Atlas and a powder-pink ring of ramparts around 19 kilometres of seething souqs, Marrakech is Morocco’s most memorable experience.  Founded almost 1000 years ago on the edge of the Sahara, this southern market town grew to become one of the great cities of the Maghreb and a Unesco Heritage site to boot.  But Marrakech isn’t some petrified piece of history that tourists come to gawk at, it’s bursting at the seems with an intense density of life and a modern entrepreneurialism that puts Manhattanites to shame.  This isn’t a place where you can gracefully glide through.  Instead you’ll find yourself telling jokes with snake charmers, dining outdoors in the Djemaa el-Fna, hankering after the latest henna tattoos and getting a hands-on scrub down in the local hammam.  Pause for unexpected beauty and banter often with multi-lingual locals, because what are the chances you’ll come this way again? “ – www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africa/morocco/marrakech/

“Like many Moroccan cities, Marrakesh comprises an old fortified city packed with vendors and their stalls (the medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), bordered by modern neighbourhoods, the most prominent of which is Gueliz.  Today it is one of the busiest cities in Africa and serves as a major economic centre and tourist destination.  Tourism is strongly advocated by the reigning Moroccan monarch, Mohammed VI, with the goal of doubling the number of tourists visiting Morocco to 20 million by 2020.  Despite the economic recession, real estate and hotel development in Marrakesh has grown dramatically in the 21st century.  Marrakesh is particularly popular with the French, and numerous French celebrities own property in the city.  Marrakesh has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco, with some 18 souks selling wares ranging from traditional Berber carpets to modern consumer electronics.  Crafts employ a significant percentage of the population, who primarily sell their products to tourists.” —Wikipedia

On our first afternoon in Marrakech our terrific guide, Nor, took us to several of the “must see” highlight spots, along with a long walk through the Mella (old Jewish quarter) and to the last remaining synagogue in Marrakech, Slat el-Azama Synagogue [see our previous blog, “Hayel Mella”].  The most visible “landmark” in Marrakech, and the most important mosque, is the Koutoubia Mosque (or Kutubiyya Mosque), the largest mosque in the city.  The mosque is also known by several other names, such as Jami’ al-Kutubiyah, Kotoubia Mosque, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque, and Mosque of the Booksellers.  The sandstone minaret tower is 77 meters (253 feet) in height, including the spire, itself 8 meters (26 feet) tall.  Construction of the mosque began between 1147 and 1154 and was completed in 1157.  The minaret is very unusual in that the top of a minaret’s tower traditionally has three globes of copper.  “Supposedly, the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque was to be built with three gold globes.  Ones topping the tower today are composed of copper.  The wife of sultan Yacoub el-Mansour broke her fast during Ramadan.  To pay her penance, she had her gold jewelry melted and made into a fourth sphere.  Completed during the reign of her husband, this unique minaret was quite a feat of engineering for its time.” – http://www.journeybeyondtravel.com

 

The most visible “landmark” in Marrakech is the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque, 77 meters (253 feet) in height, including the spire which is topped by four globes, the highest of pure g

The most visible “landmark” in Marrakech is the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque, 77 meters (253 feet) in height, including the spire which is topped by four globes, the highest of pure gold from wife of sultan Yacoub el-Mansour; Morocco

 

Orange juice sellers are in Jemaa el-Fnaa square all day and evening, whereas the portable restaurants set up for dinner are constructed DAILY in the late afternoon and removed each nigh

Orange juice sellers are in Jemaa el-Fnaa square all day and evening, whereas the portable restaurants set up for dinner are constructed DAILY in the late afternoon and removed each night, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Unique in all of Morocco is Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fnaa square and market place in the Medina quarter (old city).  It is the main square of the city and is heavily visited by both locals and tourists.  “During the day it is predominantly occupied by orange juice stalls, water sellers with traditional leather water-bags and brass cups, youths with chained Barbary apes and snake charmers despite the protected status of these species under Moroccan law.  As the day progresses, the entertainment on offer changes: the snake charmers depart, and late in the day the square becomes more crowded, with Chleuh dancing-boys (it would be against custom for girls to provide such entertainment), story-tellers (telling their tales in Berber or Arabic, to an audience of locals), magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines.  As darkness falls, the square fills with dozens of food-stalls as the number of people on the square peaks.  The square is edged along one side by the Marrakesh souk, a traditional North African market catering both for the common daily needs of the locals, and for the tourist trade.  On other sides are hotels and gardens and cafe terraces, and narrow streets lead into the alleys of the medina quarter.” — Wikipedia

“The idea of the UNESCO project ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ came from people concerned about the Jamaa el Fna.  The place is known for its active concentration of traditional activities by storytellers, musicians and performers, but it was threatened by economic development pressures.  In fighting for the protection of traditions, the residents called for action on an international level, to recognize the need for the protection of such places — termed ‘cultural spaces’ — and other popular and traditional forms of cultural expression.  UNESCO encourages communities to identify, document, protect, promote and revitalize such heritage.  The UNESCO label aims to raise awareness about the importance of oral and intangible heritage as an essential component of cultural diversity.” — Wikipedia

 

On one side of Jemaa el-Fnaa square are hotels and gardens and cafe terraces, and narrow streets that lead into the alleys of the medina quarter, Marrakech, Morocco

On one side of Jemaa el-Fnaa square are hotels and gardens and cafe terraces, and narrow streets that lead into the alleys of the medina quarter, Marrakech, Morocco

 

It was hard to believe, even seeing it in person, that this cart – pulled by one (or a couple of) man – contains an entire “restaurant” that is set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa squa

It was hard to believe, even seeing it in person, that this cart – pulled by one (or a couple of) man – contains an entire “restaurant” that is set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Early evening diners at a portable restaurant set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

Early evening diners at a portable restaurant set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Another restaurant, this one specializing in sheep heads (for soup) for dinner, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

Another restaurant, this one specializing in sheep heads (for soup) for dinner, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

A relative of the traditional Moroccan clay cooking “pot”, the tajine, this was the only vendor I saw in Jemaa el-Fnaa square with the smaller tanjia, shaped like an urn, which is co

A relative of the traditional Moroccan clay cooking “pot”, the tajine, this was the only vendor I saw in Jemaa el-Fnaa square with the smaller tanjia, shaped like an urn, which is cooked by placing the entire vessel in hot coals, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Towards sunset Jemaa el-Fnaa square fills up with locals and tourists to eat, drink, tell stories and even play games, such as this version of “go fish” with poles with plastic “do

Towards sunset Jemaa el-Fnaa square fills up with locals and tourists to eat, drink, tell stories and even play games, such as this version of “go fish” with poles with plastic “donuts” on the end used to “catch” a soft drink bottle which is the prize; Marrakech, Morocco

Three musician snake charmers got this cobra to “dance” for us, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

Three musician snake charmers got this cobra to “dance” for us, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

A close up of the dancing cobras in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

A close up of the dancing cobras in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Indian Dinner for Friends, mid-Atlantic Ocean (crossing from Brazil to Africa)

Elephants were the highlight of the décor in our apartment on the ship for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

Elephants were the highlight of the décor in our apartment on the ship for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

Good friends (four couples) on our ship decided to have a special dinner in an apartment (we used ours, as we have a table that seats eight comfortably) while we were at sea for fours days, crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Brazil to the Cape Verde Islands, just off Senegal Africa.  After some discussions with the ship’s food and beverage team, we chose to do an Indian dinner, as we have three Indian chefs on board from different cities in India.  (It was also fitting in that our last two ports in Brazil – Fernando de Noronha and Natal – were used by Portuguese ships hundreds of years ago for refitting on their way to and from Goa, India.)  In order to utilize the skills of the chefs from the different regions, we worked out a menu with the executive chef that enabled each chef to feature his home cuisine in an appetizer and a main course, with a number of canapés, side dishes and breads added.  The pastry chef also worked with the team to create two Indian desserts.  What was especially fun was that none of the dishes have been featured in our Asian restaurant on board.  Thus, the chefs got to prepare some dishes from their home cuisines and we were given a culinary tour of Chennai, Goa and Kerala.  We had beers and white and red wines to match the food, chosen by our well-versed beverage manager.  Our waiter was from India and wore an Indian outfit, including Indian shoes.  The decorations in the living room (canapés) and dining room were elephant-themed and colorful, and we were able to stream Jagit Singh music over the Internet to round out the ambiance.  All-in-all, it was a wonderful “feast” – it almost seemed that each chef was in competition to outdo his peers and create the best dish(es) of the evening.  We all felt like we had jumped on a magic carpet and left the ship for a festive evening in a private home in India.  Our thanks to the whole team involved in creating this wonderful evening!

 

The table setting for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

The table setting for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A place setting with elephant-design menu, Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

A place setting with elephant-design menu, Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

The menu for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

The menu for an Indian dinner for friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

The first of two canapés served with cocktails (wine and beer) were several bowls of Roasted Chickpeas (garbanzo beans in America), Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atl

The first of two canapés served with cocktails (wine and beer) were several bowls of Roasted Chickpeas (garbanzo beans in America), Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

The second of two canapés served with cocktails (wine and beer) were Prawn and Vegetable-filled Samosas with a mint sauce, Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Oce

The second of two canapés served with cocktails (wine and beer) were Prawn and Vegetable-filled Samosas with a mint sauce, Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

An appetizer of Goan Rissóis de Camarão (from Goa, India), prawn, cheese, onion, spice and garlic; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic

An appetizer of Goan Rissóis de Camarão (from Goa, India), prawn, cheese, onion, spice and garlic; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

An appetizer of Thattukada Fried Chicken (from Kerala, India), chicken, coconut, tomato, curry leaf, and spices; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

An appetizer of Thattukada Fried Chicken (from Kerala, India), chicken, coconut, tomato, curry leaf, and spices; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

An appetizer of Masala Vada (from Chennai, India), savory fragrant split pea fritter; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

An appetizer of Masala Vada (from Chennai, India), savory fragrant split pea fritter; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

Freshly made Indian Poppadum with (not pictured) mango chutney, tamarind chutney and raita (cucumber and vegetable yogurt), Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocea

Freshly made Indian Poppadum with (not pictured) mango chutney, tamarind chutney and raita (cucumber and vegetable yogurt), Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A main course of Lamb Varattiyathu (from Kerala, India), lamb knuckle, coconut, ginger, garlic, and spice – one of the most flavorful dishes of the evening! -- Indian Dinner for Friend

A main course of Lamb Varattiyathu (from Kerala, India), lamb knuckle, coconut, ginger, garlic, and spice – one of the most flavorful dishes of the evening! — Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A side dish of Palak Dal, lentils, spinach, turmeric, garlic and chili; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

A side dish of Palak Dal, lentils, spinach, turmeric, garlic and chili; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A main course of Combi Xacuti (from Goa, India), chicken, curry spice, poppy seed, chili, and grated coconut; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

A main course of Combi Xacuti (from Goa, India), chicken, curry spice, poppy seed, chili, and grated coconut; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A side dish of Vegetable Dum Biryani, spice, vegetables, saffron and basmati rice (with raita); Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

A main course of Combi Xacuti (from Goa, India), chicken, curry spice, poppy seed, chili, and grated coconut; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

A main course of Chettinad Prawn Massala (from Chennai, India), prawn, spice, curry leaf, and coconut; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

A main course of Chettinad Prawn Massala (from Chennai, India), prawn, spice, curry leaf, and coconut; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

Our first dessert was South Indian Style Pineapple Kesari, semolina, saffron, cardamom and pineapple chunks; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

Our first dessert was South Indian Style Pineapple Kesari, semolina, saffron, cardamom and pineapple chunks; Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

Our second dessert was Indian-style Ice Cream, rose, cardamom, and pistachio (blended together with cream); Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

Our second dessert was Indian-style Ice Cream, rose, cardamom, and pistachio (blended together with cream); Indian Dinner for Friends, on board our ship mid-Atlantic Ocean

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant, Búzios, Brazil

Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant, Búzios, Brazil, is located up on a hill in the central district of the town, providing an excellent view of Búzios Bay

Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant, Búzios, Brazil, is located up on a hill in the central district of the town, providing an excellent view of Búzios Bay

 

Up on a hill overlooking Búzios Bay, Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant serves creative, fresh, local seafood in a dining room and on their verandah.  We enjoyed an excellent luncheon after wandering from the pier to central Búzios and exploring the boutiques and cafes [see our previous post, “Búzios, Brazil”.]  Unlike many of the dining establishments along the waterfront and in the central district – by nature of its location up a hill – Mistico was not crowded for lunch, even with a very large cruise ship in port with us.  Our service was quite good with a friendly waiter who spoke excellent English.  As shown in the photographs, their cuisine is very creative and all dishes were well prepared and quite tasty.  Very highly recommended!

 

The restaurant_s verandah features a “bird of paradise” overlooking Búzios Bay, Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant, Búzios, Brazil

The restaurant’s verandah features a “bird of paradise” overlooking Búzios Bay, Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant, Búzios, Brazil

 

Our amuse bouche was cheese with mango puree and roasted almonds, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

Our amuse bouche was cheese with mango puree and roasted almonds, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

 

A mixed seafood appetizer

A mixed seafood appetizer with octopus, a lobster mini-taco, salmon, a bacalau fritter (a local Brazilian specialty, bolinho de bacalhau), seared tuna, and a cucumber salad; Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

 

Lobster mini-tacos, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

Lobster mini-tacos, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

 

An entrée (shared) of squid-ink gnocci with fried local calamari and vegetables in a delicious seafood sauce, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

An entrée (shared) of squid-ink gnocci with fried local calamari and vegetables in a delicious seafood sauce, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

 

One of the hotel_s rooms on the hill, adjacent to the hotel_s restaurant, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

One of the hotel’s rooms on the hill, adjacent to the hotel’s restaurant, Mistico, Búzios, Brazil

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Oasis (Churrascaria), São Conrado, Brazil

When we sat down at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil, we were immediately presented with a number of snacks and meat accompaniments, the first being some Portuguese empanadas

When we sat down at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil, we were immediately presented with a number of snacks and meat accompaniments, the first being some Portuguese empanadas filled with cheese

 

On our afternoon visit to the Rio de Janeiro neighborhood of São Conrado, we had a late lunch at a Brazilian-style Churrascaria restaurant, Oasis, where meat is cooked over coals on skewers which are brought by waiters to each table and carved to order for each person.  While many Rio Churrascaria restaurants have moved away from charcoal burning ovens, Oasis has maintained the same cooking style (see end photographs) for 40 years.  The variety of meats (and salads at the salad bar) was nearly overwhelming, and everything was delicious.  Our favorite was the local picanha (beef top sirloin).  Needless to say, we left very late in the afternoon completely stuffed (and we skipped supper that night).

 

We saved the sautéed bananas for desert, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

We saved the sautéed bananas for desert, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Fried manioc (cassava) – from a shrub that is native to, and widely cultivated in South America for its edible starcht tuberous root, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Fried manioc (cassava) – from a shrub that is native to, and widely cultivated in South America for its edible starchy tuberous root, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

The first skewers presented by the passadores (meat waiters) were sausage and chicken, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

The first skewers presented by the passadores (meat waiters) were sausage and chicken, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

“A churrascaria is a place where meat is cooked in churrasco style, which translates roughly from the Portugurese word for ‘barbeque’…  In modern restaurants rodízio service is typically offered.  Passadores (meat waiters) come to the table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of meat, be it beef, pork, filet mignon, lamb, chicken, duck, ham (with pineapple), sausage, fish, or any other sort of local cut of meat.  A common cut of beef top sirloin cap is known as picanha…  In most parts of Brazil, the churrasco is roasted with charcoal.  In the south of Brazil, however, mostly close to the borders of Argentina and Uruguay, embers of wood are also used.” — Wikipedia

 

As we started our luncheon, our drinks arrived – shown here is a local favorite (Brazil_s national cocktail), a caipirinha – traditionally mixed with lime, and now made with a whol

As we started our luncheon, our drinks arrived – shown here is a local favorite (Brazil’s national cocktail), a caipirinha – traditionally mixed with lime, and now made with a whole array of fruits, from strawberry to kiwi; Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Another starter, freshly cooked, home-made potato chips, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Another starter, freshly cooked, home-made potato chips, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

The salad bar featured many foods for non-meat eaters, including this section of sushi and (not pictured) hot stations with sautéed fish, fried calamari and a shrimp sauté, Oasis res

The salad bar featured many foods for non-meat eaters, including this section of sushi and (not pictured) hot stations with sautéed fish, fried calamari and a shrimp sauté, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Fresh vegetables at the salad bar, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Fresh vegetables at the salad bar, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Tomatoes and a local specialty, fresh hearts of palm, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Tomatoes and a local specialty, fresh hearts of palm, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Dips and salads, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Dips and salads, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Very tasty steak that is very similar to American flank steak (but more tender), sliced at the table (the diner uses tongs to hold the top of the slice as the passador continues to slice

Very tasty steak that is very similar to American flank steak (but more tender), sliced at the table (the diner uses tongs to hold the top of the slice as the passador continues to slice the meat), Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Our favorite (we had several servings…) was the local picanha (beef top sirloin), Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Our favorite (we had several servings…) was the local picanha (beef top sirloin), Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Charcoal grilled leg of lamb, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Charcoal grilleded leg of lamb, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Cheese covered fillet mignon (Chateaubriand) that was sliced by the passador tableside, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Cheese-covered fillet mignon (Chateaubriand) that was sliced by the passador tableside, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Lamb chops, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Lamb chops, Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

At the end of the meal one of the restaurant owners took us into the kitchen and showed us the charcoal-fired churrasqueira (barbecue grill) at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazi

At the end of the meal one of the restaurant owners took us into the kitchen and showed us the charcoal-fired churrasqueira (barbecue grill) at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Close-up of meat on skewers on the churrasqueira (barbecue grill) at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

Close-up of meat on skewers on the churrasqueira (barbecue grill) at the Oasis restaurant, São Conrado, Brazil

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Pâté Of Louisiana Rabbit & Chicken Livers, perfumed with truffles, country bread croutons, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

Pâté Of Louisiana Rabbit & Chicken Livers, perfumed with truffles, country bread croutons, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

After a morning walk of more than 10,000 steps in the French Quarter (see our previous blog post “New Orleans, Louisiana, USA”), we then headed off to eat brunch at Luke (restaurant), just west of the Quarter. We were very glad we had made a reservation, as the restaurant is very popular with the locals and many were enjoying brunch before they headed to the New Orleans Saints NFL playoffs football game later that afternoon.

 

Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana--

Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

“Luke is a Creole-inspired Brasserie located in the heart of New Orleans’ Central Business District on world-famous St. Charles Avenue, steps from the French Quarter neighborhood.  A lively atmosphere surrounds the raw bar offering the freshest seafood and oysters procured daily from the Gulf of Mexico.  Chef Erick Loos is at the helm of the kitchen featuring dishes that highlight local purveyors and farmers’ market ingredients. Behind the bar, a selection of bartender-created specialty cocktails are offered among a carefully-curated list of wines from throughout the world and locally crafted brews… Erik Loos IV is currently the Executive Chef of Luke Restaurant showing homage to the grand old Franco-German brasseries that once reigned in New Orleans.  Since opening in 2007, Luke has been hailed by Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and The Times Picayune, which applauded Luke for its “disarmingly home-spun culinary touches and broad-shouldered dishes that satisfy something more than just an appetite.” – www.lukeneworleans.com

 

Jumbo Louisiana Shrimp "En Cocotte", roasted jalapeño cheese grits, andouille & green onion sausage, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

Jumbo Louisiana Shrimp “En Cocotte”, roasted jalapeño cheese grits, andouille & green onion sausage, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

Stuffed P&J Oysters, gulf shrimp and blue crab, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

Stuffed P&J Oysters, gulf shrimp and blue crab, Luke, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.