Last day on the Alps before the BIG change: From 0 degrees to 100 degrees in 10 hours

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Now that the scary first day of skiing is behind me, I’m feeling quite confident, so today Jonathan and I are gong for the highest peak in St. Moritz, the “Top of the world” Piz Nair at approx 4000 meters hight! Funny how after visiting Macchu Pichu, hight has become just another number! My entire body is aching from yesterday skiing, but I must suck it up and show my little brother that I’m still “The man”! it’s amazing to me how much effort goes into skiing, though you never realize until the next day when you are practically paralyzed! After the Kempinski’s amazing breakfast spread in their main ball room and my daily dose of Birchermüesli, a delicious Swiss breakfast icon, it’s back up the Alps for my last day of skiing (www.kempinski.com/en/st-moritz/grand-hotel-des-bains/welcome). I was very surprised to find out that on the way up the funicular to the Piz Nair, I am suddenly petrified by the dangling and sheer hight of the funicular; I am experiencing Vertigo and a bit of a panic attack. I have never been scared of heights and this is certainly not my first time on a scary, high-up dangling funicular, but today it’s a whole new experience…must be yet another damn present that comes with age!!! We finally get to the “The top of the world” where it’s customary to go up to the bronze statue of a goat that looks down on the world from its position and grab its balls for good luck! God knows I need all the luck I can get…so It’s a mad dash for the goat’s balls. Once again, I am very uncomfortable with the extreme height of this mountain top and I look at Jonathan, with panic on my face, and tell him:”Let’s get the hell down from this mountain!!!”.

 

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The very scary Piz Nair funicular

 

6cdc9b6f87The famous goat at the top of Piz Nair


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Incredible  views from Piz Nair

 

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Love my iPhone Panorama shot from Piz Nair

 

We continue skiing all morning until it’s time to meet up with my oldest BFF, Fabrizio at one of St. Moritz’s top places for lunch: Salastrains Restaurant (www.salastrains.ch). Salastrains is a beautiful, typical Engadin style building with the most amazing terrace on the slopes overlooking the Alpine mountain range. If you are lucky enough to get that perfect sunny day, you can sit outside on the terrace and have one of the most memorable lunches in your life! Today, we have that kind of luck and we sit on the terrace for some great views, great company and some St. Moritz specialties: like Onion soup and Carne del Grigioni.

 

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St. Moritz’s ski-in, ski-out top lunch spot: Salastrains Restaurant

 

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Salastrains’s Menu

 

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The amazing outdoor dining terrace

 

IMG_7635Robert Kass, Jonathan Kass and my Swiss BFF Fabrizio Malfanti

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Another Engadina classic: Carne Secca del Grigioni

 

After a few more slopes, the rest of the afternoon is spent walking around the old town and a visit to one of my favorite hotels in the world: Badrutt’s Palace Hotel                                   (www.badruttspalace.com). This place has more stories than you can imagine; it’s been a mecca for the jet-set, super stars and billionaires for over 100 years! Not only it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, but it’s also a place that I have frequented since I was a little kid; I have to many memories here to count, especially at the infamous King’s Night Club in the basement of the hotel where more parties, scandal and debauchery have been going on for so many years. My dad used to bring talent to the Palace in the 60′ to perform and I spend countless New Year’s here at my late friend Christina Onassis’ NYE parties. The founder of this iconic hotel is pretty much responsible for creating St. Mortiz when he built the first hotel in the area, now the Kulm Hotel (www.kulm.com), and later  the Palace with its famous “Torretta”, once occupied by the famous German playboy and billionaire Gunter Sachs. To date, I am still friend’s with the grandson: Johannes Badrutt Jr.

 

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The legendary and super-chic Badrutt’s Palace Hotel

 

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The famous billionaire Günter Sachs’s green roof Torretta at the Palace Hotel

 

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Torretta detail

 

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Palace Hotel entrance

 

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The stunning mountain/chic interior at the Palace



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The amazing carved wood ceilings at the Palace Hotel

 

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More amazing details at the Palace Hotel

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The 1959 Rolls Royce Silver Spur for guests at the Palace Hotel

 

Alright, I better get back to the hotel for a siesta before tonight’s big event at the Kempinski: The 2016 St. Moritz Gourmet Festival, featuring only Top Japanese chefs from around the world, including my buddy from LA, Nobu Matsuhisa. Reto has arranged a few tickets for this famous yearly gala held in St.Moritz featuring a different cuisine every year; it’s going to be a bonanza of food tasting of one of my favorite cuisines. Most presenting chefs have 1 or 2 Michelin stars restaurants around the world, so you can imagine the kind of foodie experience this will be. It’s a black tie event and I only have a sport jacket and jeans (Clearly, I wasn’t planning on attending elegant events on this trip. But it goes to tell you what my dad always said: A gentleman always carries a suit in his luggage…you never know!). Apparently I am not a gentleman and I definitely stood out like a sore thumb; all this means is that I have to turn up the charm to make up for my inappropriate appearance. After a few sakes, no one cared, least of all, me! After inhaling about 20 incredible Japanese nibbles with equally amazing paired wines, I am literally falling a sleep on my feet! It’s bed time for this aching, out of shape, old ski bunny!

 

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The Japanese Chef delegation at the 2016 St. Moritz Gourmet Festival

 

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Preparations before the big event

 

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The Gala is in full swing

 

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Look who is also here showcasing his amazing food? My friend Nobu from LA

 

Tomorrow I will spend my last half day in this winter paradise before driving to Zurich, where I will spend the night for my early departure the next day to Tanzania; in other words, I will go from 10 degrees to 110 degrees in one day! Sayonara!!!

 

 

 

First day of skiing…God help me!

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Waking up in St. Moritz is truly a dream; especially in my beautiful, comfortable and spacious suite at The Kempinski Hotel (www.kempinski.com/en/st-moritz/grand-hotel-des-bains/welcome) that my childhood friend and Hotel GM Reto Stockenius has arranged for me. Looking out the window and seeing the enchanting town with the Swiss Alps as a backdrop is medicine to your soul and puts you immediately in the best mood possible. I guess I have the same connection and awe with the mountains as other people have with the ocean back in California; the shear size, presence and overwhelming beauty, takes over you and you are suddenly part of the miracle that is NATURE!

St. Moritz is an alpine resort town in the Engadin, a valley in Switzerland. Twice a host of the Winter Olympics, St. Moritz is mostly know for its jet set and aristocrat clientele that has been part of the fabric of this town since its inception. Winter in St. Moritz is as good as it gets, and the infrastructure is second to none: great skiing, amazing hotels and restaurants, sassy night clubs and more glamour than you can handle! A mecca for billionaires, celebrities, royals and sports figure, St. Moritz always seems to deliver with flying colors!

 

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My fabulous suite at The Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains

 

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My sitting room

 

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View from my window

 

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View from my window

 

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The stunning 19 century facade of the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains

 

Today is my first day skiing in 6 years since I broke my shoulder in Whistler, Canada, when an 18 year old drunken hooligan, ran me over with a snow mobile!!!! Yes…a snow mobile, that threw me up in the air 15 feet to land on my shoulder; I passed out on impact and woke up in the emergency room of the local hospital with my deranged friends laughing at me…equally as drunk as the criminal that ran me over!!!! That was my dear friend Jeff Bartlett’s bachelor party, so it’s not a surprise that multiple injuries, to multiple people happened during the trip.

So back to St. Moritz; today I will ski after 6 years and I’m really exited and nervous at the same time…I don’t want to brake anything else!!!!! The fact that I am soooo out of shape now will not help either. So it’s me and my brother Jonathan off to the slopes today at a comfortable 8 degrees weather; if I don’t brake my neck, I’ll probably freeze to death anyway…no positive outcome here! Surprisingly, the day goes really well, the weather is amazing, not a cloud in the ski, the snow is fluffy and dry and I just got back into the swing of things like a champ! The best part is realizing that I’m a better skier than my little brother…HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Brotherly competition never dies…

 

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Amazing Coffee Shop on the slopes

 

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Ready and gorgeous…

 

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Corviglia sceenery

 

IMG_7587A very happy Robert ready for lunch

 

After 3 hours of skiing, I can’t feel my legs or body for that matter, so it’s time for my favorite pastime on the mountains: Gluhwein…and lunch!!!! Gluhwein is the equivalent of Mulled Wine in the US and a staple in the European mountain resorts to keep warm (at least that’s the excuse we use). Jonathan and I stop at one of our favorite mountain eateries for lunch, or more specifically, the Swiss staple: Bratwurst with Rösti and mustard. It’s amazing to me how the simplest little things in life make me soooo happy; I don’t need a Bentley or a Hermes leather Jacket…give me a Bratwurst or cheese fondue and I’m truly fulfilled…literally!



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The outdoor bar at the Alpina Hütte

 

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Alpina Hütte’s amazing terrace overlooking the Swiss Alps

 

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Menu

 

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A swiss mountain classic: Bratwurst with Rösti

 

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My little brother Jonathan Kass

 

After a great lunch on the terrace of the Alpina Hütte (www.alpinahuette.ch) looking at the Swiss mountain range, both myself and Jonathan decide that we had enough for the first day and that it’s time for a nice walk around St. Moritz and a hot chocolate at the legendary Hanselmann Bakery (www.hanselmann.ch), a staple in St. Moritz and a must after a long day of skiing. Once back at the hotel we go for yet more indulgence with an hour of SPA action at the Kempinski. Now I am literally paralyzed with exhaustion…I need a serious disco nap before dinner.


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Classic Engiadina style architecture

 

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The iconic Chesa Veglia restaurant, also part of the Palace Hotel

 

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One of Switzerland’s most famous bakeries and a St. Moritz institution: Hanselmann


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The beautiful Laurent Perrier ice bar for the après-ski Bolli

 

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Hanselmann Bakery at dusk


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View from my suite at dusk

 

IMG_7597View from my suite at dusk with full moon

 

Tonight I’m having dinner with 3 of my oldest friends in the world: Reto and Simona Stockenius and Fabrizio Malfanti, whom I’ve known since I was 3 years old along with my brother Jonathan Kass. It’s not often these days that you can sit at a dinner table with people you love so much and have known for all your life. Catching up over a period of 40 years is no small feat and will require multiple bottles of amazing Swiss wine to do the job. We are eating at the fairly new Dal Mulin Restaurant (www.dalmulin.ch), which I picked on the Internet because of its stellar reviews; all the other top restaurants were just way too expensive for my little “Jet setting on a dime” wallet. Expensive in Switzerland is NOT the same as the US; “expensive” in St. Moritz is $300-400 per person without an expensive wine; so I’m hoping this more reasonable eatery with great reviews, will impress us, for we all are pretty demanding customers!

As expected, dinner goes on for hours and laughter is in abundance, in fact, we close the place down after midnight. Dinner is really good; the boys share a massive Stinco di Vitello, cooked to perfection, while the rest seem very happy with their dishes. Reto picks a Swiss Charbertin red wine that is truly out-of-this-world for a medium priced wine.

 

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Tonight’s restaurant choice

 

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The very Swiss warm and cozy dining room at Dal Mulin

 

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Our round table at Dal Mulin



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Steak Tartare at Dal Mulin

 

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Stinco di Vitello al forno



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Amazing local wine that Reto Stockenius picked for us

 

We are all so tired now but as they say: “No rest for the wicked”…one more stop before hitting my very comfortable bed. Reto and Simona want us to see one of the hottest bars in St. Mortiz, where their kids usually hang out when in town. Contrary to all the other hot night spots in St. Mortiz like The King’s Club at the Palace Hotel or Dracula at the Kulm Hotel that are ûber exclusive, super expensive and difficult to get in; Baracca is an old barn where poor workers used to gather after work for some cheap booze. Now, of course, it’s no such place; though it’s still the old barn, it’s now a favorite with the young ones visiting St. Moritz. It’s loud and packed to the tilt and people often end up dancing on tables to the same old European favorite tunes like the Gypsy King and yes…Crystal Water’s “She’s homeless”! We last just about 30 minutes before we all realize that we are a little to old to hang with the kiddies, so we finally head back to the Kempisnki and hit the sack!!!!

Good night from heaven…or as the locals call it: The top of the world!!!

 

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The infamous Baracca restaurant and bar

 

labaracca_20150201_212025The very simple interior of Baracca



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My brother Jonathan Kass with my gorgeous childhood friend Simona Stockenius

 

 

My Hotel project is finished and I definitely need a brake…off to Switzerland for some great skiing

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After five months of hard work, I have finally finished designing my first Hotel in my long and multifaceted career. Interior design has always been one of my favorite interests in life, and though I never pursued it professionally, I have designed dozens of restaurants and bars through the years along with some other projects for fiends of mine, but this project was quite special; not only it’s my first hotel, but also the first time I work for a proper client, beside my projects and my friends. I am so grateful for being given the opportunity to take on a project of this kind and visibility on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and to really show my work at a whole different level! None of this would have happened if not for my beloved BFF Ilona Margolis who promoted me and my talents to the right people with more passion and conviction than I would ever be able to do. I have now been entrusted with designing my clients’ next hotel in Brentwood; but in true Kass fashion, before I dive into my second hotel, I need a little brake and I can’t think of anything more extreme than a week in the Swiss Alps for some skiing in freezing weather and another week in scorching hot Tanzania, Africa!

 

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Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel Entrance


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New Club sign

 

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New reception area


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New Lobby

 

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New Lobby

 

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Library detail with Salvador Dali print

 

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One of the many beautiful pieces of art at the new hotel

 

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The dramatic Lacquered wood paneled hallway at the new Luxe Hotel

 

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The new outside patio on Rodeo Drive

 

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The new Bar at The Luxe Hotel

 

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Bar detail

 

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New bar and dining room

 

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New dining room

 

To celebrate my latest achievement and my last night in LA, I decide to spend the night at home alone with a bowl of Beluga caviar, a bottle of Tattinger Champagne, toasted Pain de Mie and Leonardo di Caprio’s latest epic movie: The Revenant…my kind of BLISS!!! The next day is a whole different thing…I spend most of the morning agonizing on how to pack for such an extreme combination of climates; finally I go for a larger suitcase packed with as many cashmeres I can get my hands on, all my sky gear and any warm clothing item I can find and a smaller suitcase with flip flops, bathing suit, t-shirts and two large cans of mosquito repellent…a must when traveling in Africa!!! Perfect, it’s time to Uber myself to LAX for my long haul to Zurich, Switzerland where my brother will pick me up and drive me to the most beautiful winter wonderland in the world: St. Moritz!!! Of course, I fly my beloved Swiss Airlines, who surprised me this time with a better than usual dinner menu that I thoroughly enjoyed before popping my sleeping pill for the twelve hour beauty-sleep to Zurich.

 

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My idea of a perfect night!

 

I was having dreams of mosquitos attacking me in Africa when I get a tap on my shoulder and awake to find out we are arriving in Zurich! After a short layover I board the small propeller plane to Lugano where my brother is waiting for me for the 2 hour drive to St. Mortiz. The drive is beyond amazing from Lugano through the Swiss alps, covered in snow to our final destination, the super chic Kempinski Hotel.

 

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View from my seat

 

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Delicious dinner on Swiss Airlines

 

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Abord the small propellor plane to Lugano


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Zurich at dusk from my plane

 

IMG_7411Amazing views of the Swiss Alps at dusk

 

We are staying at the beautiful Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St. Mortiz, the historical ski resort that had its first winter season in 1814-15;  it’s charismatic director is my childhood friend Reto Stockenius, one of Switzerland’s best Hotel General Managers and long time friend of mine from my early days in Lugano Switzerland. Reto is the kindest and most generous soul and he is married to yet another childhood friend of mine from school: Simona Stockenius. It’s a real treat to be able to stay at his hotel and share some time together after soooo many years knowing each other. Reto’s class-act style is evident form the first minute I enter my room with a welcome bottle of Veuve Clicquot, a delicious almond tart, typical of this region and more goodies in toe. What was supposed to be a standard room, was upgraded to a one bedroom stunning suite with the most incredible view of St. Mortiz and the Swiss alps skyline. I’m in Heaven!!!!


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The stunning Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St. Moritz

 

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The best welcome treats in my suite from my dear friend and Director Reto Stockenius



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The Stunning vIew from my suite with full moon

 

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More images form my room

 

After settling in Jonathan and I make our way to one of the oldest and most renowned eateries in St. Moritz: Veltlinerkeller. This place has been around for generations and we’ve been going here since I was a kid; they are famous for their Pizzoccheri, which is whole-wheat pasta with potatoes, Spinach smothered with a local melted cheese…divine!!!! I was a little apprehensive about dining under a huge head of a Moose, but after a few glasses of wine, he turned out to be quite interesting! I have the best time catching up with my little brother, but j between my main course and dessert, jet lag kicks in and I’m ready to go back to my fancy suite and turn in!

 

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One of my favorite restaurants: Feltlinerkeller

 

IMG_7457The very Swiss interior at Feltlinerkeller


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Their signature dish: Pizzoccheri della Valtellina



IMG_7470My brother Jonathan Kass and someone we picked up along the way…


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Being naughty with our new friend

 

Oh…by the way, did I mention it’s 18 degrees below zero in St. Moritz? I am quickly reminded how thin my blood has become living in LA for so many years; the frost is truly unbearable!!!! Once back at the hotel, I can’t help feeling so nostalgic, overwhelmed by so many memories from my past in this place: from my late father, to my many friends from my youth I lost touch with and so many glamorous events I was so lucky to attend in St. Moritz. I can’t wait to be back on the slopes tomorrow for the first time in 20 years. I hope this old carcass of mine will make it though the day without braking anything!

Good night everybody from this enchanting place…bloody freezing too!!!

 

Off to a Castle in Lucerne, Switzerland for 24 hours for work…we do that every now and then!

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The flight from Paris to Lucerne is only 35 minutes, so before you have a chance to drink your cup of coffee, you’re already landing in Zurich. I rent my favorite Italian car: Alfa Romeo, for the 1-hour drive to Lucerne. Lucerne is located in central Switzerland; amid snowcapped mountains on the north end of Lake Lucerne…imagine that! With its enchanting, colorful old town, its 14th-century Museggmauer city walls, the turreted buildings, this place is truly the storybook image of a Swiss town. But the most famous landmark in Lucerne is the The Kapellbrücke Bridge.

Translated, the Chapel Bridge is a covered wooden footbridge spanning diagonally across the Reuss River in the city of Lucerne in central Switzerland. Named after the nearby St. Peter’s Chapel, the bridge is unique since it contains a number of interior paintings dating back to the 17th century, although many of them were destroyed along with most of the centuries-old bridge in a 1993 fire. Subsequently restored, the Kapellbrücke is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, as well as the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge. It serves as the city’s symbol and as one of Switzerland’s main tourist attractions.

I am her to meet my dear friend Javier Millership’s father for some Service Industry consulting work; we’re meeting at his company’s latest acquisition: the iconic 1888 Château Gütsch, a palatial hotel in a 19th-century, belle époque-style castle on top of a mountain peak overlooking the entire city. When you arrive at this property you really gasp at the beauty of this dramatic building and most of all, the incredible view from practically everywhere you look. Mr. Millership has arranged a stunning balcony room in the main castle with the best view in the house. After making myself comfortable and taking 100 photos of the view, I decide to go to town for the afternoon before my dinner meeting with Mr. Milleship. I haven’t been in Lucerne for many years; I think the last time must have been one of those school trips we used to take so often at my school. Tough it’s a splendid city, it’s just not on my radar, far to tranquil for little old me, furthermore, German is not my best language so I tend to avoid. I always feel like I’m walking into a Swiss version of Disneyland when I walk around the streets of Lucerne; its just so damn cute and charming with it’s steeples and bridges and the most beautiful golden hanging signs from building I have ever seen. You’re just waiting for Heidi to pop out of nowhere and make you hot Swiss chocolate.

It’s time to go back to the Castle and get ready for my meeting. We are having dinner at the hotel tonight on the terrace overlooking all of Lucerne; I’m exited to try the food and get to know Mr. Milleship, considering I adore his son! The rest is pretty much all business and probably not to interesting for my spoiled readers; so I’ll make this a short post and reconnect with you after I arrive in Los Angeles…Yes, tomorrow I’m off again to Lala Land to get ready for the Christmas season…my favorite season of all!!!!

Ho Ho Ho…

 

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The Chateau Gutsch on top of its mountain peak

 

IMG_4108Arriving at Chateau Gutsch


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Front facade of Chateau Gutsch and my balcony suite right at the middle

 

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The first photo of many to come of the spectacular view from my bedroom balcony

 

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The torrets of Chateau Gutsch

 

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Another breathtaking view from my balcony

 

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My cute bedroom


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The main Salon

 

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The Bar lounge

 

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The Bar

 

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The City’s landmark: Kapellbrücke Bridge

 

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Kapellbrücke Bridge

 

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A feathered visitor

 

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The 17th century paintings on the Kapellbrücke Bridge

 

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The beautiful tower at Kapellbrücke Bridge

 

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17th century Germanic style architecture on this old town church

 

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The Reuss River with its beautiful buildings

 

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Robert Kass and Mr. Millership having an after dinner drink at the Bar

Ralph Lauren, Picasso and George V…that’s my idea of a perfect day!

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Bonjour Paris!!!!!

Just so exited to be here! Today I am going to all my favorite foodie places to buy presents for my friends and family back home. First stop: Maille, the best Dijon Mustard in the world since 1747… I guess It must be good if they’ve been around for so long. This shop is soooooo charming with it’s old fashion store front in the corner of Place La Madeleine and the renovated interiors showcasing the biggest selection of flavored mustards I have ever seen. You have the choice of the classic pre-bottled jars or you can get the fresh mustard right off the “Gun”; just like a draft beer, mustard comes out of the spout and into a porcelain Maille Jar, sealed with a cork and ready for travel; amazingly, good mustard stays good for 1 year if refrigerated. I buy 1 large, medium heat Chardonnay Mustard Jar and one large Hot Mama, Chablis Mustard Jar as well for those randy days in LA…I have no clue what I mean by that! Mustard…Check!

 

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The stunning store front of Maille

 

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The many flavors of Maille’s mustards

 

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It’s Macaroon time and where else but Ladurée around the corner from Maille on 18 Rue Royal. Ladurée is a French luxury bakery and sweets maker house created in 1862; it is one of the top premier sellers of the double-decker macaron, fifteen thousand of which are sold every day in the many new locations around Paris and the world. Once you walk inside you can’t help being mesmerized by the many colors and flavors of Macaroons, so beautifully displayed, calling your name! They are not cheap but worth every penny and every calorie. It’s fun filling the old fashion, 8 piece boxes with all different flavors; my favorite: Chocolate and Pistachio. Needless to say, by the time I make it out of there, I’ve ingested at least 6 macaroons myself…well how would I know what to buy if I don’t try them and find out which ones I love? Macaroons…Check!

 

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The delicious Ladurée boutique on Rue Royal

 

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Ladurée’s famous macaroons

 

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The Ladurée macaroon selection chart

 

2014-01-31-19-43-49Ladurée’s beautiful macaroon gift boxes

 

Finally, it’s off to Fauchon on the other corner of Place La Madeleine. Founded in 1886 in Paris, Fauchon is a Parisian institution and an international gourmet food company, which sells a wide range of own-brand products including delicatessen, cakes and pastry, breads, confectionery. The packaging and fabulous selection make it a must when visiting Paris, even though it’s quite touristy…oh well. I stock up on their amazing Fois Gras de Canard, some exotic teas for Mom, a few Éclairs down my throat and…Check!

 

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Fauchon at the Place de Madeleine

 

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The amazing Fauchon store

 

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A mouthwatering display of Eclairs

 

Time flies when you’re having fun! It’s 1PM and I’m ready for an American lunch at Ralph Lauren’s new restaurant on 173 Boulevard Saint Germain in the Latin Quarter of Paris. I know it’s a scandal to be eating American food when in Paris, but you got to take a little breather from French rich food every now and then with a light and fluffy Cobb Salad…Just let me believe that! I am meeting my lovely friends: Vincent Simonet, Luc Cartier and Diane for the usual boozy, LOL kind of luncheon. The beautiful new Ralph Lauren’s restaurant is inside the courtyard of the impressive new clothing store in Paris; it’s decorated as only Ralph would, totally chic outdoors veranda surrounded by flowers and RL pillows and fabrics. The menu is definitely American fair and well executed, I must say; the waiter was a laugh and a half…or maybe it was us…I don’t remember. This place is red, hot, popular and apparently, very difficult to get a reservation, though I walked up to the hostess stand with no reservation and talked my way into a beautiful table in 10 minutes…experience darling, experience!


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Entrance to Ralph Lauren’s new St. Germain restaurant


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The beautiful courtyard at Ralph Lauren

 

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Our pretty table at Ralph Lauren

 

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Leather Menu

 

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My delicious Cobb Salad

 

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Vincent’s Chicken Paillard

 

Though I could spend the entire day with this lot, laughing and drinking away, I can’t get to loopy because I am going to visit one of my favorite artists in the universe: Pablo Picasso’s newly re-furbished Museum. “Give me a museum and I’ll fill it,” Pablo Picasso reportedly said; and the city of Paris did just that! The renovated Picasso Museum closed since 2009 for renovation, finally reopened in 2015 in the Hôtel Salé, a spectacular Baroque 17th-century mansion in the Marais district. What can you say about Picasso that hasn’t already been said; he’s the MASTER, he’s the one who changed art forever and brought it to the new century; he’s a genius and a great inspiration in my life! The new museum does him justice; it’s so beautiful and grand with it’s dramatic staircase in the middle of it; I’m sure Picasso would be proud. After spending 4 hours in the museum with a very bored Raphael, who was done at 1 hour; we finally make our way home for a siesta before dinner at another landmark restaurant in Paris: L’Avenue on Rue Montaigne.

 

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Picasso Museum

 

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Picasso Museum entrance

 

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The stunning staircase at the Picasso Museum

 

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Robert Kass contemplating Picasso’s work

 

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Picasso’s work

Tonight I’m meeting Luc Cartier and Diane again for a night of laugher and lots of booze, because that’s the way we roll with this group. L’Avenue restaurant is a staple in Paris’s high-society and a favorite amongst the who’s who of rich and famous Americans…usually not my kind of place: too trendy and way to snobby! But I do make an exception for L’Avenue because of its amazing Steak Tartare and sublime Potato Purée and believe me, I don’t say this lightly! Definitely worth dealing with the thick layer of attitude and snobbery that this place delivers with no apology day after day! I always enjoy letting out an occasional burp in here just to see the expression of disgust on the faces of these “Larger than life” characters…”Oh mon Dieu”. Dinner is amazing and after 3 bottles of Burgundy the three musketeers are ready to wabble over to our favorite Bar in Paris: the Uber Chic Bar at the George V Hotel, just a few blocks away from L’Avenue.

 

IMG_6846L’Avenue restaurant on Avenue Montaigne


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One needs a cocktail before choosing what to have for dinner…

 

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The best Steak Tartare in Paris along with the best Mashed Potatoes in the universe

 

The George V is yet another institution in Paris and one of the best Hotels in the city for a century! I’ve been visiting this hotel since childhood; it was my Mom and Dad’s favorite in Paris in the old days and it continued to dazzle me to present day. An added bonus is my friend Jeff Leatham’s spectacular flower arrangements that have adorned this Hotel for many years now, setting it aside form the rest. It’s really expensive here, but if you can afford it, it’s really worth the experience it delivers to its guests. If you’re looking for a great drink, nothing beats the Lychee Martini that is shaken, not stirred, at your table by a young, beautiful bartender. Impossible to get  table here too, but thankfully, Mr. Cartier has been boozing it up in here for many years, so we were immediately greeted with great fanfare and seated at the best table in the house! Morale of the story? It helps to have boozy friends…

 

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One of Jeff Leatham’s beautiful arrangements at George V Hotel in Paris

 

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More Jeff Leatham genius at George V Hotel

 

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George V courtyard dripping in orchids

 

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George V super chic bar

 

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My favorite seat at George V’s Bar

 

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My favorite cocktail: Lychee Martini

 

Now we are seriously tipsy and it’s probably a good idea to wabble back home before we start swinging from chandeliers and get kicked out. That’s the great thing about Paris; you can always drink a little too much and then shake it off with a nice walk back home, while looking at the most beautiful city sights humanity has ever created.

 

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Amazing view of the eiffel Tower on the way home

 

One thing I know, If I make it to my old age, this is the city I will live in; I can’t imagine anywhere more inspiring and fulfilling than Paris. Good night possums…

 

 

The perfect Parisian day: Art, Fashion, Food & Wine

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Waking up in Paris makes me instantly happy, there is something about this magnificent city that inspires and puts me immediately in a great mood. The first thing one does in Paris is get out of the house and get your morning croissant and Café au Lait in one of the million cafés present in every street and neighborhood; we pick Au Rocher de Cancale, which happens to be just across the street from our apartment in the bustling, pedestrian neighborhood of Montorgueil. Beside the Swiss, no one makes croissants as good as the French, it’s something with the water and butter and flour that just cannot be replicated; the Swiss counterpart: the “Gibfel”, is pretty close but still not as good. There is nothing like having your morning coffee and croissant, sitting on a sidewalk in Paris witnessing the daily hustle and bustle unfolding in front of you…it’s just magic! After breakfast it’s off to the local market and one of my favorite Boulangeries in Paris: Eric Kayser, for some baguettes and basic French must-have in the fridge: butter of Normandy, any kind of French cheese and a few bottles of French wine…et voilà!

 

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Eric Kayser Boulangerie

 

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Paul Boulangerie on Montorgueil

 

IMG_5253One of our neighborhood Brasseries

 

Today we are going to two amazing exhibition in two of the most iconic building in Paris: one very old and one just recently completed, the Grand Palais and the new Frank Gehry, Louis Vuitton Foundation. The Grand Palais is featuring an exhibit on Jean Paul Gaultier, the super-famous-genius French designer that exploded in the eighties with his innovative and daring new style of design that broke all rules and conceptions and opened up the door for more daring designer such as John Galliano and Rick Owens. I was just in my twenties when Gaultier rose to the top of the fashion world and, as many others, I became a huge fan and a total Galutier fashonista, I dressed head to toe in Gaultier for many years, earning the nickname: fashion victim. Looking back at photos of some of the outfits I was wearing in those days I can’t help but cringe at the depth of my dedication for this designer to the point of looking totally ridiculous in some of his outfits. That’s the eighties for you sister! So you can imagine my excitement on the way to the beautiful Grand Palais by the Seine for my pre-reserved VIP tickets to Jean Paul’s exhibit (with all the money I spent on his clothing in the past I should get a private viewing by Jean Paul Gaultier himself). As expected the exhibit is beyond fantastic with so many of his iconic work and some I never saw before; Madonna’s infamous and trend setting stage collection that he designed for her “Truth of dare” tour in 1891, to the Sex Pistols’ costumes to his Pocahontas wedding frock…just mind boggling!!!!

 

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Jean Paul Gaultier”s exhibition at the Gran Palais

 

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Classic Gaultier

 

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Genius at work

 

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More Gaultier

 

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Madonna’s “Truth or dare’ tour costume

 

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Pocahontas wedding frock

 

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Silly turists unleashed

 

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When in Paris…

 

IMG_5405Humpty Dumpty…

 

IMG_5224Pont Alexandre III


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Pont Alexandre III

 

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Paris Love Locks Bridge

 

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Notre Dame cathedral

 

After a nice walk and sightseeing by the Seine and over the Pont Alexander the 3rd and the usual silly tourist photos with the Eiffel Tower (see below…), It’s time for lunch and I can’t think of anything better than the legendary Les Deux Magots   (www.lesdeuxmagots.fr) in the Rive Gauche, a classic Parisian Café serving up classic brasserie dishes since 1812. Only in Paris you have these iconic places that have been around for hundreds of years that give you such a sense of history, pride and tradition that is hard to find anywhere else…I just LOVE IT!!!! I have my usual Steak Tartar; a mix salad with a bottle of Rosé from Provence and Raphael salivates over a perfectly cooked Steak Frites that only the French know how to do. No rest for the wicked…it’s back to the culture train and off to the Foundation Louis Vuitton. The $143 million museum has recently been completed and opened its doors on October 2014; the building is designed by Los Angeles based, famed architect Frank Gehry, and is adjacent to the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne of the 16th arrondissement of Paris. Commissioned by Bernard Arnault, the Chairman of the fashion empire LVMH, this new addition to the must-do list in Paris is a true beacon of architecture and innovation and a shrine dedicated to promoting art and young artists…music to my soul! The collection is amazing and so diverse from Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, to Richard Prince and Andres Gursky and a video-sound installation that will take your breath away.

 

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Les Deux Magots Brasserie in the Left Bank

 

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Les Deux Magots Menu

 

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Les Deux Magots place setting

 

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Les Deux Magots outdoor terrace



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Fondation Louis Vuitton by Frank Gehry

 

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Fondation Louis Vuitton Exhibit

 

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Frank Gehry’s masterpiece

 

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Exhibition halls

 

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Warhol

 

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Jean-Michel Basquiat

 

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Richard Prince

 

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Sensational Audio/video installation

 

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Art

 

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More silly turists at the Arc de Triomphe

 

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Lines on people outside the Louis Vuitton boutique on the Champs Elisées

 

I think I’ve reached my Cultural Nirvana; it’s time to go back to my lovely Parisian apartment for an afternoon tea, baguette and cheese and a glass of Beaujolais. One of my best friends in Paris, the very handsome and talented opera singer Vincent Simonet, has suggested we have dinner in this tiny little restaurant in the Passage de Panorama named Racines; I trust Vincent’s taste for he is a full-on gourmand as I am. The place has 8 tables and is located in this lovely indoor gallery lined with many little restaurants, one more damn cute than the other; it would be impossible to pick one if I didn’t already know where to go.  I start with the Boudin Noir, a French specialty made with Cow’s blood (I know…yummy!!!) and then the best Entrecôte to Cochon Ibérique I have ever had in my life!!!! Pair all that with a beautiful Bourgogne a Crème tender du Chocolat Noir to finish up and it’s food coma…again!!!! The amazing thing about Paris is that you walk everywhere and having a nice walk after a meal is the best way to digest and get a little workout between really, really fattening meals. We are pretty close to Les Halles neighborhood, one of my favorites in Paris, so tonight we really go for it and after what seems like hours, we finally retire at 2am for some much needed sleep.

 

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Passage de Panoramas

 

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Racines restaurant

 

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Front on Racines restaurant

 

IMG_5424Racines Menu

IMG_5425Entrecôte to Cochon Ibérique

 

What an amazing day: Gaultier, Vuitton!!! It’s incredible how fashion is and has always been such a monumental part of the cultural, social and artistic development of this city, it’s part of the DNA of these people and its evident in every aspect of French daily life. Paris is my favorite city in the world and after years of coming here, I am still in awe of it’s culture and traditions and its determination to put life’s little pleasure before possession and accumulation; they really give the old saying: “Stop and smell the roses” a whole new meaning!!!!

“Bonne nuit mes amis…a domain”. Le zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Visiting the iconic Riva Motorboats headquarter in Monte Carlo and off to Paris for din dins

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Good morning hangover! Nothing better than packing and trying to pull it together with 3 hours sleep and a hangover…oh well! After the dreaded walk of shame through the lobby, to the reception to pay my bill, we get in our rented Fiat 500 for the 3 hour drive to Monaco where we will have lunch and visit the Riva Yachts headquarter, or otherwise known as the Rolls Royce of boats. I still remember when I was a kid going to Portofino and Santa Margherita-Ligure in Italy; with my dad and my older brother every summer and spending most days cruising the Riviera on his beautiful Riva Aquarama Special, probably the most beautiful and glamorous speedboat in existence. Years later, my then step-mother Joan Collins also purchased a Riva Bravo, which she named “Sins” after completing her first mini serious for ABC named…yes you guessed it: “Sins”, which we used when vacationing in her house in south of France. So i have a special attachment to this brand and I’m exited to be visiting its headquarters in Monte Carlo.

My friend Jerome, who is married to one of the members of the Riva family, has arranged a special visit. Finding a parking spot in Monte Carlo in near to impossible, but that is why I have a Fiat 500, so you can literally park it anywhere…and so I do, between to motorcycles at the port, right in front of Riva. Walking through the famous “Tunnel’ where they keep their inventory of smaller speedboats, is truly fascinating! These boats are not called the Rolls Royce of the water for no reason, the design and handcraft work on these jewels is truly unprecedented and no one else comes close to it. Clearly, this comes at a cost…a very large cost! But hey…if you can afford it, it’s the one to buy! I can’t afford it, so no time wasted thinking about it. Outside, right by the water hanging from a crane, is the iconic Riva Aquarama Special, the same boat my dad used to have, in all its beauty!!! This legendary speedboat was introduced in 1962 and it’s classic design and style is still   fabulous today as it was when it was first introduced.

 

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Entrance to the Riva “Tunnel”

 

IMG_5521Riva’s famous “Tunnel” where they stock their boats



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The iconic Riva Aquarama Special

 

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Riva Aquariva getting serviced

 

After an hour of nostalgia and dreaming of what color I would choose should I be able to afford a Riva, it’s lunch time and I decide to go to an old Monaco classic restaurant Pulcinella (http://www.pulcinella.mc). This place has been around since 1979 and is a favorite among the Monegasques; through the years I remember having dinner here with my family, Roger Moore and then wife Luisa, with my beloved Shirley Bassey and many more. The food is ok, but the atmosphere is uniquely familiar and friendly…like having dinner at an Italian family’s home. Finally, it’s time to drive to Nice airport, drop off the little truffle (the Fiat 500 that is) and fly to Paris in time for dinner.

 

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Ristorante Pulcinella famous logo

 

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View of Monte Carlo from the road

 

This time around, I rented an apartment in Paris through Airbnb in the Montorgueil area, famous for it’s pedestrian only street lined with dozens of Brasseries, restaurants, markets and, oh yes, Boulangeries!!! After a pretty quick Uber ride form Chrales de Gaulles airport to the 10th arrondissement, we settle into our 17th century, two bedroom apartment and prepare to walk around our neighborhood for a place to dine. Rue Montorgueil is always bustling with people 24/7 and though getting an apartment in this location might be a little noisy; I absolutely love it and immediately feel the magic of the Parisian Cafe society. We decide to eat at the brasserie right across the street from my apartment: Café du Centre; a classic French Brasserie with all the usual suspect on the menu; I go for a green mixed salad to start, a Steak-Tartar aver Pommes Frites and a bottle of Rosé (between two people of course). We are sitting on the sidewalk in total bliss and just between the starter and the main course it starts poring cats and dogs like you’ve never seen before, all our food gets immediately soaked, our wine diluted and we just turned into wet chickens…absolutely FABULOUS!!!!! No one cared at all, we all just run into the small interior dinging room and practically sit on top of each other like a 10 pound sausage in a 5 pound bag and NO one cared, the staff brought out more wine for everyone and dinner continued without a hitch…just really damp.

 

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My Parisian hood

 

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Café du Centre

 

After dinner, it’s an absolute must to have a walk in the neighborhood to digest your meal and since we are 5 blocks away from there Louvre, that’s where we will do our digesting, walking down the Tuilleries with all the million of lights twinkling in the night that make this City of Lights absolutely unique and spectacular.


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The Ferris Wheel on the Tuileries

 

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The glass pyramid at the Louvre

 

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Palais du Louvre at night

 

It’s been a long day and I’m ready to retire in my charming little apartment; did I mention Paris is having a heat wave? Yes, it’s about 95″ at 1am and there is no AC in my apartment…welcome to Paris! It’s ok, I’m too tired to care; I place the large fan practically over me and it’s off to La La Land in a second.

Bonne nuit Paris…je t’aime!!!!

What happened to St. Tropez?

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There is something very special about landing at Nice airport; it’s something about the south of France, it’s vegetation, architecture, its scents; the color of the ocean and this feeling of summer that take over me each time I’m here. After collecting our luggage we make our way to the very convenient and glamorous helicopter service to St. Tropez. There is no better way to avoid traffic and get a good idea of the shear beauty of this renowned coast all the way from Nice, through, Antibes, Cannes, Juan les Pins all the way to St. Tropez.

I’ve been coming to St. Tropez over the summer every year since I was 10 years old; I must admit I am quite jaded about this summer mecca and when I say: “What happened to St. Tropez” I’m referring to the tragic change this spectacular French resort has gone through over the last 10 years. It’s become a victim of it’s own success and today, it’s a playground for really tacky, nouveau riche (or wannabe “Riche”) wanting to flaunt their money and trophies and St. Tropez is happy to oblige with a myriad of ridiculous, commercialized gimmicks designed to take as much money as they can while dignifying and promoting such appalling behavior. Hummmm…do I sound a little negative? As I said, I’m really jaded when it comes to this place; there was a time when I thought St. Tropez was the most amazing summer resort in the world. I guess that after doing the same thing over and over for so many years, you grow tired of it and less welcoming of imminent change. Make no mistake, St. Tropez is absolutely beautiful, it’s just the summer people and the summer commerce that ruin it these days. If you have the opportunity to rent a house in one of the many little villages that pepper the coast’s hills, with a group of friends and enjoy the many local restaurants, markets, wineries and beaches, then this place is still amazing; but hanging out in town, along side the new madness…well, that’s clearly not for me anymore! Enough said…let’s move on.

 

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Our helicopter service to St. Tropez

 

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The very unfreindly French pilots

 

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Arial view of the port of Cap d’Antibes

 

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The stunning bays of St. Tropez

 

Once we land in St. Tropez, our driver is waiting to drive us to our hotel: Pan Dai Palais (www.pandei.com); one of the newer five start hotels in town and probably my favorite, because of it’s small and intimate size (only 10 gorgeous rooms), its exclusivity and it’s impeccable service. The Moroccan themed hotel is a converted 18-century estate that reeks of chic and it’s literally in the middle of town where everything is happening. It comes in handy when you had a few too many drinks and need to crawl back home.

 

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The super-chic Pan Dei Palais Hotel in St. Tropez

 

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Pan Dai Palace lobby

 

P1010058Pan Dai Palace swimming pool

 

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My beautiful Maharaja Suite

 

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More Maharaja Suite

 

After settling into my room, we begin our 24 hours jammed packed visits of St. Tropez; starting with, what else, the beach! There are plenty of beaches in St. Tropez’s Pampelonne Bay and each one has a totally different crowd and purpose; my days of Nikki Beach, Voile Rouge or Bagatelle are most definitely over; the only beach I can bear these days, is Les Palmier, which is the most upscale and subdued of the whole lot, though I still like a long, boozy lunch at the iconic Club 55 (www.club55.fr/en/). After tipping the doorman $100 to get through the gate (you have to tip everyone here to get anywhere…kind of like Vegas), $200 for 2 chaise-lounge on the beach, $50 for two towels, $80 for a bottle of Evian, it’s finally time to relax and enjoy the beautiful sun and the expensive blue waters of the Pampelonne Bay, that looks more like a parking lot of mega yachts, fighting for the best position along the coast, than an ocean. After a lovely $400 lunch for two on the beach and a party at Tahiti Beach with my old friend Luigi (a staple in St. Tropez for over 30 years) spinning away and making us Tropical drinks the size of a fish bowl, it’s back to Pan Dai for a little siesta before the night marathon. $1000 afternoon and no shopping bag to show for…

 

IMG_5498The upscale Les Palmier Beach Club


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Robert Kass and Raphael Tessier getting sauced on Luigi’s Tropical Punch massive drink

 

IMG_5595Making friends to share the massive drink with



IMG_5616The amazing Luigi spinning at Tahiti Beach

 

Tonight we are driving 35 minutes outside St. Tropez in La Croix Valmer to dine at Couleurs Jardin Restaurant, a super charming outdoor restaurant perched on the beach. The food is amazing like most of the restaurants in these parts; my Pata Negra, a Spanish pork specialty, is to dye for! Two bottles of Burgundy later, it’s time for trouble! We drive back to St. Tropez and after a walk around this beautiful port town to digest our very heavy dinner, we move to the trendy Cafe de Paris at the port, where another old friends of mine from St. Tropez, is the GM. My friend Philippe has been running trendy clubs and bars in St. Tropez for the last 30 years, from the days of Le Bal to Le Pigeonnier to Chez Maggy’s and this one is no exception. Philippe is bigger than life and probably the funniest person in France; he will not let you leave his establishments standing, in fact, he’s happy to see you leave horizontally! Thankfully, I manage to stumble out before the customary demise.

 

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The ocean-side Couleurs Jardin Restaurant in La Croix-Valmer

 

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The open terrace dining room at Couleurs Jardin

 

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Heirloom tomatoes with burrata and tapenade

 

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Mussels au Gratin


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Spanish Pata Negra

 

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The charming, restaurant lined side alleys of St. Tropez

 

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St. Tropez’s iconic port lined with mega-yachts

 

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The omni-present Mega Yachts in the port oif St. Tropez

 

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The one and only Philippe holding court at Café de Paris

 

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The famous Tarte Tropézienne at Café de Paris

 

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The best dessert ever at Café de Paris

 

It’s now 2am and the perfect time to go to “THE” club in St. Tropez for the last 40 years: Les Caves des Roy at the Hotel Byblos (www.byblos.com/en/). This place is difficult to explain; it’s like a seventy’s club that never grew up but intact, shines brighter than ever; it’s a mecca for the worst kind of rich patrons one could think of and their dreadful groupies than come along with them. I will admit, I had many, many of amazing nights at Les Caves through the years, but now it’s literally painful to visit this joint. I remember many years ago when this club started a trend of interrupting the music every time someone bought a $15,000 Magnum of Dom Perignon or Crystal and the DJ announced the city from where the rich buyers came from, which in those days was not to often.

Today there are so many rich people that they literally interrupt the music every 10 minutes to announce a new city every time someone buys a mega bottle with the incredibly annoying words: “Dubai in the house” or, “Bangladesh in the house” or “Hong Kong in the house” while the waiters fight their way across the club, carrying the large bottles with sparklers in toe, to the your table, so that everyone knows you’re the ONE. Not to mention they pack this relatively small club to the hilt making it impossible to even move; I’m seeing the headlines already if ever a fire brakes out in this place: “French Toast”. The funny thing is that unequivocally, year after year, I run into so many of my friends in here from all over the world who are just having the time of their lives, just like I used to…I guess I started to early. This place is generation proof and here to stay no matter what this old goat says…Good for them!

 

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Place des Lices on the way to the Byblos Hotel

 

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The very exclusive and eternally jammed-packed Caves du Roy in St. Tropez

 

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Robert Kass in St. Tropez in 1995 sporting the young fashionista look

 

n1210396193_1230368_2265Dinner in St. Tropez with friends in 1995

It’s 5am and this grumpy and inebriated Suizo is ready for bed and thankfully, I can crawl back to my fabulous hotel that is just around the corner and slip into my four post Maharaja throne for whatever is left of this night before tomorrow’s imminent departure to Monte Carlo for the day and finally Paris for dinnertime. I don’t think I’ll be coming back to St. Tropez anytime soon, or at least, until I can afford a villa in the hills for me and my friends.

Bonne nuit mes petits poussins!

 

Back to Göcek for our last meal with the Turks and off to St. Tropez

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Once again, during the night, we sailed back to Göcek, Turkey; so by the time we wake up, we’re already anchored in one of Göcek’s spectacular natural bays. It’s a bittersweet day today; we are leaving for the South of France this afternoon and leaving my Turkish family behind is always a tough nut to swallow. After my morning breakfast on the deck, it’s packing time before a few last hours of lounging and sunbathing. Both Raffi and I get our last massage from the talented Jasmine and a long swim before lunch. Today we are going to the magnificent reservation of the Datça Peninsula, where the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas meet, to have lunch at the famous Il Riccio restaurant from Capri (www.dhotel.com.tr/en/dining/restaurants/il-riccio.aspx), that recently opened it’s doors as part of the super luxurious D Hotel and resort (www.dhotel.com.tr/en/home.aspx); there, all of our Turkish friends are joining us for the last supper: including the beautiful Burçak Sayilgan, Selim Sayilgan, Mr. and Mrs. K, Feti, the fabulous Endar, etc…

 

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Someone is getting a massage

 

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Someone is pole dancing…

 

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Goodbye home away from home!

 

Il Riccio is one of the most famous restaurants in Capri and always a favorite with the rich and famous clan; the food is always very good but they are well known for their dessert room where you find the most amazing selection of desserts enough to satisfy the most difficult of palates; furthermore, the room is decorated in the most beautiful fantasy of marine blue and white that just ads a whole new element to the whole experience. Clearly, this new Riccio franchise, has recreated the signature “Dessert room” of the original restaurant behind the dining room; not quite the same WOW factor as the one in Capri, but definitely good enough for this little dessert monster…me, that is! The food was also not as good as the original, but not bad at all. As a restaurateur I’ve learned that it is close to impossible to re-create the same cuisine of one country in another country and expect it to be exactly the same. Ingredients change flavor from country to country, from the basic ingredients such as water, spices and flower all the way to vegetables and meats. The place is stunning though, not easy to compete with Capri, but this location is beyond beautiful, right on the beach with the most mind-blowing natural views of the bay with its white sand beaches.

 

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Arriving at Il Riccio for our last lunch before heading off to Istanbul


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Outdoor ding area at Il Riccio

 

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Bar at Il Riccio

 

IMG_5568Our table at Il Riccio



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Menu at Il Riccio

 

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The amazing dessert room at Il Riccio

 

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Switzerland, Turkey and Canada united over dessert!

 

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The last supper with two of my favorite people in the world

 

IMG_4971Our helicopter is arriving to pick us up at Il Riccio

 

After a big lunch, a case of Domaine Ott Rosé, 6 desserts and lots and lots of laughter, it’s time to say goodbye to my amazing hosts and dear friends: Mr. and Mrs. K. They have arranged for a helicopter to pick us up at the resort hotel we are at and fly us to Istanbul where we will connect on a flight to Nice and another helicopter to St. Tropez. I know…how glamorous is that???? If it was up too my budged, we’d be paddling on a rafter all the way to the South of France. After many, many kisses, hugs and tears, we jump on a Golf cart with our luggage and climb the hill to the helipad where our Augusta Helicopter is waiting to take us on the two hour journey to Istanbul.

Taking off on a heli, gives you a totally unique prospective over this incredible region; both Raffi and I couldn’t stop taking photos of this magical landscape. It’s quite noisy on a helicopter, so they provide you with headphones that are connected to one another so you can speak to each other, while blocking the outside noise. Two hours seem to go by in a second and, once again, the view of Istanbul, its bridges and palaces like you can only experience from a helicopter, is breathtaking; I don’t want to get off!

Like all good things…this too must come to an end and we must face our own reality now and reluctantly, board an incredibly ordinary commercial jet as the pedestrians we are…sigh! I’m just kidding…I don’t care how I get anywhere as long as I’m going somewhere all the time!!!!!


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That’s the way we roll…

 

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Robert Kass serious Heli pose

 

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Robert Kass and Raffi’s stupid pose

 

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The amazing views of Goçek from our helicopter


IMG_4982More…

 

IMG_5021Arriving in Istanbul

 

The rest of the trip is quite ordinary so I’ll catch up with you possums tomorrow morning when I wake up in “Cheese ball City” St. Tropez for my quick, 24 hour visit.

Au revoir ma Turquie, au revoir mes amis…à la prochaine!

 

Off to the Land of the Gods for some crystal waters and more amazing food

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After going to bed last night, around 3AM our captain set sail to Greece so that by the time we all wake up for breakfast, we have arrived to our destination. It is a standard practice for yachts to travel during the night so guests don’t have to be bothered sitting around doing nothing while the boat is traveling on a long distance destination. Greece is truly a spectacular country and one of my favorite summer destinations; often called the birthplace of Western civilization, it consists of 2 mainland peninsulas and thousands of islands throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas, one more beautiful than the other. Turkey is it’s closest neighbor to the east and just 6-7 hours from it’s closest island. Our first stop is the island of Marathi, where we will have our first Greek meal! I loooove Greek food, it is so simple and delicious; their Greek salads are perfection and their basic ingredients like tomatoes, olive oil, oregano and especially fresh sea foods are second to none.

 

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The many, many islands between Turkey and Greece mainland

 

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Off the the land of Gods

 

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Leaving Turkey behind

 

Marathi is a tiny little island with something like 20 inhabitants, alongside 6 goats, 2 black cats and a chicken. Pantelis Marathi, the only restaurant on the island and a real treat for local fair and amazing seafood, fresh from the ocean; big group luncheons are a must in these areas and the atmosphere is loud and lots of fun. We start with a selection of appetizers including grilled octopus, Greek salads, hummus, mussels, eggplant and then their signature dish: Grilled lobster with tagliatelle. It’s a feast worthy of the gods and we certainly don’t shy away from stuffing our faces, not to mention, the many, many bottles of rosé that seem to be a must anywhere in Europe during the summer holidays. After lunch we are off to the island of Symi.

 

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Arriving at Pantelis Marathi Restaurant

 

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Nothing better than big groups for a summer luncheon

 

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Grilled octopus

 

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Classic Greek Salad

 

DSC00528The delicious medley of Mediterranean appetizers served in most restaurants in Greece


DSC00548The famous Lobster Tagliolini


Symi is known for its beaches and its colorful neoclassical houses that adorn the whole facade of the island. Here we walk around for a little shopping and stop at my favorite spice store where you can buy the best Greek spices such as oregano, wild sage, paprika and oh yes…sex tea (Some weird concoction that supposedly enhances your sexual experience…those horny Greeks!). Symi is really tiny, like most Greek islands, and you only need an hour to look around after which we take the small speed boat to go around the island looking for the most amazing natural beaches with the clearest blue waters you will ever see for a little water and sun action. By 4PM, it’s toy-time again: Sea-Bobs, Water-Boarding, jet skies and the whole lot. Let me tell you, unless you are 20 years old, after a few hours of this testosterone demonstration, you are completely exhausted and yours truly is ready for a siesta before dinner at the small port of Symi.

 

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The beautiful island of Symi

 

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More Symi

 

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And more Symi

 

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Stavros’ Spice shop

 

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All the many local spices at Stavros’s Spice Shop

 

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Paolo taking me back to the boat after a little shopping in Symi

 

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One of the stunning beaches in Symi only accessible by boat

 

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One of the many stunning natural beaches only accessible by boat

 

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Robert Kass channeling Bond…James Bond

 

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Raffi water-boarding at dusk

 

Around 8PM, Raphael and I decide to go to the port before the rest of the gang for a drink at the popular Harani Bar: when I say popular, I mean it’s the only place in Symi that has more than 3 tables and therefore, somewhat of a crowd, though most of them are tacky tourists with 21 flowers on their back, a fanny pack and a camera…my favorite! Even so, it’s a beautiful thing having a cocktail at this ancient sea village, surrounded by ancient buildings, under the stars at a stifling 95-Fahrenheit. One cocktail turns into 4 each and before you know it, we are crawling over to the other end of the port to join the rest at Ristorante la Vaporetta, the best Italian restaurant in Symi.

 

IMG_4907Symi’s happening scene: Bar Harani

The place is so charming and you get to sit right on the water with the twinkling lights of the port as a backdrop. After the best tomato and feta cheese I have ever had in my life, it’s once again, a culinary journey of Greek-Italian fusion dishes that are just beyond amazing. It is so hot tonight and I can’t wait to get back to the boat for a refreshing swim in the ocean and perhaps anther movie on the top deck with a bowl of Paolo’s deadly Truffle popcorn and more Rosé.


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Arriving at Ristorante La Vaporetta

 

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Ristorante La Vaporetta

 

la-vaporettaLove the menu with so many notes and corrections


11034065_1600734156871483_193423952_oWhy is he so unhappy and not the lobsters?


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Beautiful sail boat at the port of Symi

 

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Back home for a late night swim

 

It’a really hard not to think of all of us as a bunch of alcoholics, but when I tell you that there is not much you can do on board of a boat but eat and drink, I ain’t kidding!!!! Another popular activity on board with this group is karaoke! Not the kind you have in mind, more like blasting rap music through the boat system in the middle of the ocean while lip sinking along and trying to move and shake as true rappers. Nothing better than a bunch of Europeans whitees on a yacht trying to be rappers from the hood.

I swear, another week of this and I’ll look like “Jabba the Hutt” and will not fit in any of my clothes…Luckily, it’s Greece and I can always just throw a Pareo around my waist and call it a day. Tonight, after bedtime, we will be sailing through the night back to Turkey for our last day in the South before Raffi and I head over to St. Tropez in the South of France.

Have I mentioned how blessed I am? I am always truly grateful and humbled! Peace out.