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


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 (, that recently opened it’s doors as part of the super luxurious D Hotel and resort (; 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…



Someone is getting a massage


FullSizeRender copy 2

Someone is pole dancing…



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.



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

Outdoor ding area at Il Riccio



Bar at Il Riccio


IMG_5568Our table at Il Riccio


Menu at Il Riccio



The amazing dessert room at Il Riccio





Switzerland, Turkey and Canada united over dessert!



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!!!!!


That’s the way we roll…



Robert Kass serious Heli pose



Robert Kass and Raffi’s stupid pose



The amazing views of Goçek from our helicopter



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


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.


Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 9.44.16 AM

The many, many islands between Turkey and Greece mainland



Off the the land of Gods



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.



Arriving at Pantelis Marathi Restaurant



Nothing better than big groups for a summer luncheon



Grilled octopus



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.



The beautiful island of Symi



More Symi



And more Symi



Stavros’ Spice shop



All the many local spices at Stavros’s Spice Shop



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



One of the stunning beaches in Symi only accessible by boat



One of the many stunning natural beaches only accessible by boat



Robert Kass channeling Bond…James Bond



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.


Arriving at Ristorante La Vaporetta



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?


Beautiful sail boat at the port of Symi



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.

Jetting to the South of Turkey for a week of “Yachting”, on a dime…of course!


Good morning everyone!!!! I’m so ready for a little boat action in the beautiful South of Turkey (actually, more like a big boat action). After the waterfront breakfast ritual…this time with the house pet: the totally “Bonkers” Lillie the Kitty, who today decided to join me for breakfast…more specifically, decided to wrap herself around my neck, like a Stole. One last scrambled eggs with Sukuk (the lethal Turkish sausage) and it’s time to pack…BTW I have no idea who’s cigarettes are those by my side…bad kitty! By late morning a caravan of sedans with myself, Raphael and Nibbles’ family make way to the airport for the fairly short flight to the South of Turkey, specifically: Göcek. Göcek is a stunning ocean village that has not yet suffered the claws of tourism and over development, as it’s neighbor Bodrum has. The natural layout of islands and coves in this large and secluded bay makes it a perfect place for the yacht set. Furthermore, in 1988, Göcek was declared a Registered Area of Special Protection, so multi-story buildings are not allowed, this has literally killed all plans to over-build and develop, making it renowned as a much more peaceful and exclusive settlement than some other tourism areas.



Last Turkish breakfast on the Bosphorus…with Lillie the Kitty


After a delightful flight on a Falcon 900 private jet, we arrive in Dalamal Airport and into a new caravan for our final destination. At the marina, our dingy is waiting for us to take us to our fabulous yacht where we will be spending the next week, cruising up and down the Turkish coast and across the Mediterranean to a few Greek Islands. At the boat, the fabulous staff, lead by the charismatic head steward Paolo, greets us with cocktails and nibbles; It’s really hot in Göcek and both Raffi and I can’t wait to get in the water. After settling in our guest suites we all meet on the deck for more drinks and to visit with our dear friend Burçak, who is herself, on her boat a few bays away. I’ve known Burçak for many years and it’s always such a pleasure to see her and her husband Selim. One of the features of these Yacht populated micro systems, is that you make friends with neighboring yachts and before you now it, you become part of this exclusive posse; you are going from party to party, to dinner to dinner, cocktail to cocktail…all on yachts of course. If you suffer of seasickness…well, then you should consider another glamorous form of transportation. The thing about yacht life is that there are only three things to do: eat, drink and, for the more industrious: water activities. I happen to enjoy all three equally, so after a few welcoming cocktails, a few local raw nuts and 3 glasses of Ornellaia, I’m jumping in!!!!!



IMG_4722Boarding the Falcon 900 for our trip to Göcek


IMG_4740Someone is very happy…


Someone is very tired…


The water is warm and crystal clear and the view of the untouched, natural plush landscape is riveting; after a few Esther Williams laps around the boat, it’s time for toys! This boat happens to have all the toys a kid or a immature, adult as I am, could hope for; it’s Disneyland on the water and between me, Raffi and Nibbles’ kids, it’s a never ending race on who can out due the other. I’m into the new See-Bob, a submergible that propels you under water like a submarine; all you have to do is press a button and hold on for dear life and this thing will drag you under water for as long as you can stand it. There is a lot of seawater drinking at the beginning until you get the hang of it. Raffi, on the other hand, is going for Fly-boarding, a very popular contraption that you wear on your feet and with the help of an altered jet sky; it will lift you out of the water through water jets. Last time I tried this I fell on my face 23 times until I finally raised from the waters like a water angel…so I’ll tackle that tomorrow. Nibbles opts for a good old classic waterskiing session behind a very powerful See-Doo. After swallowing half the bay of Gocek behind my See-bob, I decide to go back and have a Leonardo moment: “King of the world” at the front of the boat before joining the rest of the gang for cocktail hour #3.




The Russians have arrived. They always have the biggest boats…Hummm



Grandma’s spectacular 1920′ steamer yacht



The head steward on the boat, the lovely Paolo



The beautiful Burçak Sayilgan with Robert Kass


IMG_4896A very traditional Turkish snack: raw almonds and walnuts on ice



Jesus juice…Ornellaia



The Canadian getting psiched-up for “Fly boarding”



And he’s up…


Robert Kass channeling Leonardo di Caprio



This one never takes a bad photo…we will call her “Cover girl”



“Cover girl” mono-skying in Göçek



Raphael Tessier enjoying the warm waters of the Mediterranean


One of the many unique things about Gocek is their amazing restaurants on the sea that you can only reach by boat; tonight we are going to one of my favorites that specializes in Mediterranean foods who’s name escapes me…I know, ridiculous! I spent 1 hour on the internet looking for the name of this restaurant but that’s how exclusive it is…You can’t find it!!! You can only get here by boat and the food is fresh and delicious with the usual Turkish specialties and my favorite: Linguini with fresh lobster. There is not a sound around you but the restaurant activities, the water is now flat as a mirror and there is this sense of peace that i can’t describe. Looking out form out special table on the sand, you can see the many little green islands disappearing into the night and the silhouettes of the yachts anchored for the night. It’s time to go back to the boat for a late movie on the top deck under the stars and Paolo’s bed-e-buys nightcap before I hit the bed: Grappa and black cherries…when in Rome!



Arriving at one of my favorite restaurants on the beach



Our table…right on the water



“Cover girl” strikes again



The charming “Al fresco” dining



Dusk in Göçek


Our floating home at Dusk


IMG_4842 Paolo’s idea of a night cap: black cherries and Grappa


Yacht life is exhausting!!! I know…shoot me!

Switzerland-Spain-Turkey, Summer 2012

Just days after my BIG 40ish birthday celebration at one of my favorite restaurants in the world: CUT in Beverly Hills (, hosted by my longtime BFF, Gelila Puck; I’m embarking on a month long trip through 3 different countries and over 10 cities. First leg of the trip is LA to Zurich. Every time I fly to Switzerland there is only one choice of airline: Swiss Airlines (! Not only it has one of the few direct flights to Zurich, but it is also, by far, one of my favorite airlines in the world.

Just like everything else in Switzerland, this airline runs like a well-oiled machine: perfect service, great planes, incredibly friendly & efficient, good food, great movie selections, etc. When booking my flight this time around, Swiss was asking for way too many miles for a first class ticket, so I choose to fly Business class, which is almost as impressive as “first”. Seats go down to a flat bed position and if you don’t mind having your feet imprisoned in a small hole between the seats in the row in front of you, you are just fine (I’m quite fidgety, so I felt a little contrived).

A great tool I always use when looking for the best seat on any given plane and airline, is Just type in the flight number and airline and this super-handy site will give you the lowdown you need to make the right choice. Just as important, is knowing how to get the most out of your miles; for that I sometimes use:; It’s a jungle out there with all the different travel awards, restrictions, penalties, special offers. etc; you really need a hand in sifting through all of it! If you do your homework, you really can fly a better cabin class, better airline, fewer lay-overs for less mileage than you would spend without doing your due diligence.  Of course the best option is having your own personal travel agent who already knows all the secrets and shortcuts and that for a reasonable fee, can make miracles for you: I have a few amazing ones I can suggest if anyone needs one!



Business class seats


My travel routine to Europe is always the same: Since you always leave in the evening from LA to Europe, I look forward to a delicious dinner with an unusually high number of glasses of wine, 2 movies (I start with an action movie followed by a “sappy” one once the wine kicks in), topped by 1 “horse dose” sleeping pill and before you know it, I’m waking up just minutes before landing in Zurich, with a cappuccino, a fresh croissant…and yes, a Swiss chocolate!




Going through passport control and luggage claim at  Klöten Airport, or any Swiss airport for that matter, is always “easy, breezy”and pain free! The Swiss extraordinary organizational skills are evident in every aspect of this country’s infrastructure; why can’t the rest of the world learn from these people???

My childhood friend Bertrand, with whom I stay when visiting Zurich, is waiting for me at arrivals and after the usual hugs & 3…yes 3 kisses on the cheek (that’s how it’s done in Switzerland: “when in Rome…”) we leave for his gorgeous penthouse apartment in one of the nicest areas in central Zurich: Bellevue.

This apartment is stunning! If you survive the 3 stories climb up the stairs with 2 suitcases weighing in at over 90Lb each (no elevator in this turn of the century building); you will eventually marvel at the magnificent view of all of Zurich from the massive terrace. I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather stay…though a lake-view-room at the Baur au Lac would also do…or the Storchen Hotel…or the Dolder…all right, enough!




 Other side…


Statue of a Swiss sausage on the Banhoffstrasse…don’t ask.


Zurich is a magnificent city and the most vibrant in Switzerland; Any culture who places a 6 ft. tall Veal Sausage sculpture in their main shopping street, has a place in my heart!!!! I’ll be talking a lot about Switzerland in my blog, not only because I’m from this beautiful country, but I also use it as a hub every time I come to Europe for it’s close proximity to all major European cities, while giving me the opportunity to do a quick visit with my family in Lugano.

This time around I’m in Zurich looking for locations for a new restaurant & bar I’m working on (which we will talk about at another time), so the majority of days will be spent with my real estate agent/friend Darko (Croatian? Hummm…); and the evenings, well…they will be spent doing whatever people do in the evenings in Zurich! In my case, Darko was kind enough to take me to 10…yes ladies & gentlemen, 10 clubs and bars around the city till 6AM! Needless to say, I don’t remember much of what happened that night nor do I want to!

Thankfully, the day after, my friend Bertrand, who knows me like the back of his hand, brings it up a few notches and surprises me by taking me, along with his beautiful girlfriend Claudia, to my favorite restaurants in Zurich: Kronenhalle ( Indeed an institution for almost 100 years, serving up local specialties in one of the chicest restaurants in Europe! Dining in these early 20th century rooms with mahogany paneled walls and white marble tables with legs designed by Diego Giacometti, one can only marvel at its renowned art collection by Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky, Chagall and Miro just to name a few (I heard a lot of the collection got sold over the yearts…sigh!).

Personally, since I’ve been coming here with my dad since I was a kid, I can’t wait to dive into my favorite dish in Zurich: Zürcher Geschnetzeltes!!! Ahhhhhh, words cannot describe this sinful veal dish with mushrooms and lots and lots of cream and butter, served with the Swiss version of “hash brown”: Rösti. Add a lovely Tignanello (one of my favorite Italian wines from the Antinori family in Tuscany), a deliciously crunchy Bürli (a classic Zurich bread roll), an apple sorbet with Calvados to finish up…et voilà…COMA!

Great food, great company, great history, chic atmosphere and impeccable service make this landmark a once in a lifetime “must”! Just remember that this place is not cheap (not that anything is in Switzerland). You might have to take out a small loan to dine here, unless of course you are very rich in which case you will also be seated in the main dining room and not in one of the other, more “pedestrian” rooms in the building.



Main Dining Room


Zurcher Geschnetzeltes




Zürcher Geschnetzeltes Recipe


1 onion

1 ½ cup mushrooms

1 lb. 4 oz. veal (from the leg)


¼ cup butter

1 glass of white wine

6 oz. heavy cream

salt & black pepper

chopped parsley


Cut veal into bite size thin slices, then turn them lightly in flour. Peel and chop onions, clean and slice mushrooms. Heat butter in a skillet and sear meat quickly and remove from skillet, keep warm. Fry onion until transparent then add mushrooms. Pour in wine and cream and quickly heat before adding the veal. Add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with parsley and serve with Swiss Rösti.



Rösti Recipe


2lb potatoes

1 onion


olive oil


Cook potatoes in their skins until tender. Rinse them with cold water, then peel and grate them coarsely. Peel onion, chop it finely Add olive oil into skillet, then add potatoes and press them down to form a cake. Fry until golden brown and crunchy then turn and fry other side. Serve.


Clearly, I spend the next morning at the very trendy Silhouette Gym in Bellevue, just above Globus (the Swiss Macy’s) with the most beautiful view of the lake, running on a treadmill in the effort of burning some of the 15,000 calories I had the night before.

After a few days looking at restaurant locations, it’s time to leave for Barcelona and embark (literally) on a one-week boat adventure in the Spanish Mediterranean, with one of my dearest friends, James Moore.

One cannot leave Zurich without a visit at my beloved Sprüngli ( on the Bahnhofstrasse for a cappuccino and 2 fresh Gipfeli (the Swiss version of croissants): I’ve been going to Sprüngli for as long as I can remember; it is a Swiss staple of quality and tradition and by far the best “Confiserie” in the world since 1836!!!!!


Sprüngli on the Banhoffstrasse






Every time I arrive in Barcelona, I’m always baffled by the shear size of that terminal…it’s just enormous!!! After walking what seemed to be 5 miles to the baggage claim, I grab my scaled down, yacht size, Luis Vuitton suitcase and get into a car for the 20 minute ride into Barcelona. .

“Barcelona has always been at the cusp of the country’s creativity with pioneers such as Catalan chef Ferran Adrià (Restaurant El Bulli), who has had a profound effect on the world’s restaurant culture, much as Salvador Dalí did with art and Antoni Gaudí with architecture. And while Picasso wasn’t Catalan, he considered Barcelona his spiritual home and his artistic muse. Indeed, the very urban fabric of Barcelona is deliriously vital: grand with medieval design, playful with impish street art and ablaze with Modernista colors and furbelows”

After a quick lunch at Los Caracoles (, established in 1835; one of my mom & dad’s favorite hangouts in Barcelona in the 60’ and 70’, where they serve the most delicious snails (I know…not too popular in the US) and Spanish tapas; I must go to my favorite square in Barcelona: Plaça Reial for a coffee and people watching.

Plaça Reial 


Gaudi’s influence on this palm tree-lined plaza extends no further than the lampposts, but with hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and outdoor cafes maintaining a constant buzz, day and night; it’s a great place to visit, specially if you are trying to escape from the hustle of Barcelona’s most famous tourist trap: Las Ramblas. After getting lost several times at the Barrio Gotico (the old quarter), a 14th century maze of tiny houses, stately palaces and funky shops, we make way to the port and onto the “Vessel”, as my good friend Matthew Mellon calls them.

Main Dining Room

Bar with hanging Jamon Iberico 


The most amazing wood burning, 18 century stove, still used to date


Jamon Iberico aging from the ceiling


I settle into my lovely stateroom, unpack: arranging all my shirts and pants in equal distance between each hanger, arrange all my toiletries in linear formation on the glass bathroom counter (yes, I have a problem…), quickly breeze through the Ship’s safety booklet (no worries, I watched Titanic a million times; I know what to do: have plenty of cash in your pocket at all times…) after which, I make my way up to the main deck for a welcoming bottle of champagne and a “plotting” session over the week to come with James.

James and I are great travel companions; we seem to like all the same things, most of which, the thrill of travel and a genuine curiosity towards all that is “good living”. Additionally, my hyperactive, “slightly” eccentric personality seems well meshed with his cool and collected New England demeanor; he’s extremely witty and together we are a lethal combination…not to be meddled with!!!!!



First stop is Marbella; not one of my favorites cities, though I have some of my dearest friends who live here. My dad and my step-mother had a summer home in Marbella in the 70’ and all I remember is the scary nanny who would chase me around the house with a knife (…just kidding; was it a gun?) and being left at the pool with my brothers & sisters at the Marbella Club ( for hours on end while dad & Joan pollinated around the hotel with the beautiful people “du jour”.

Through the years I returned to Marbella several times and I will admit, I had lots of fun dancing to the wee hours at Olivia’s or yacht hopping during the day from one mega yacht to the other (they all seem to have one), or doing what people in Marbella do best…socializing and dressing up!

This time we are here for only 5 hours during lunch time, so the only thing we can squeeze in is Nikki beach! Perfect place to go for a beach & sun filled afternoon; chaise lounging on the sand, gorging on the “famous” Sushi Boat, feasting on Mediterranean oiled-up beauties and dancing the day away to the latest Euro sounds!!!! Nikki Beach is always a sure thing if you are looking for a party environment and beach beauties! After a lovely lunch and a great visit with my old friend Ahmed Ashmawe, I am back on the boat and off to “Sodom & Gomorrah” AKA Ibiza!!!


Trumpet Player at Nikki Beach


Nikki Beach



Next stop, the infamous island of Ibiza! I swore I would never come back here after my last trip 8 years ago, where I got stuck at Amnesia Club till 11am, up to my chin in bubbles, in a room of 15,000 people high on ecstasy, grabbing everything in site…including my bits!

In truth, Ibiza is really beautiful place and has definitely secured the spot for “Most fun” place in the universe…hands down!!! Of course it all depends on what kind of fun you are looking for, but in Ibiza you can have it all: absolute madness or shear beauty and peace. I’ve done both many times and I find myself gravitating more towards private villas with good friends and lazy days on the beach or on the boat, rather that 24 hour marathons at Pacha, Space or Amnesia…age perhaps?

After arriving at the port, my little group of friends decided to have a stroll through the old town followed by dinner at Olivo, just inside the Castle walls. I just never get tired of those beautiful cobble stone streets and that Balearic architecture that is so typical of the Spanish Islands. After dinner we did the usual “tour de force” of, what seemed, every bar in town, until the inevitable…what club to go too!!!

I was happy to retire to my room and be fresh as a “Rosa” the following day so I could enjoy the many daytime wonders Ibiza has to offer. Unfortunately the evening took a different turn and around 2am, after protesting vigorously, I was dragged against my will, kicking and screaming, to Space ( where I was sworn that I would be staying only for a few drinks!

9am…I’m walking out of Space after dancing uninterrupted for 7 hours to what seemed to be the best music I have ever heard in my life!!!! No drugs ladies & gentlemen, just a dozen cocktails and good shoes…this old battleship can still give those kids a run for their money!!!!!

After a refreshing 3 hour sleep, I drag myself out of bed, slip into a bathing suit (maybe “slip” is a bit of wishful thinking…more like “stuff myself”), hide the bloodshot eyes behind extra large YSL glasses and join the rest of the group at Las Salinas Beach.

“Las Salinas is another of Ibiza’s beaches that has become rather popular with the very wealthy and the very beautiful. If you’re having a fat day then it’s probably not a good idea to go to Las Salinas as most of the beach’s occupants will be strutting around wearing as little as possible and showing off as much as they can. By way of example, the beach is particularly popular with footballers and footballers wives – not an option then if you haven’t fake-tanned yourself orange or achieved that golden Ibiza glow yet”.

Usually I prefer hanging out in the little island of Formentera during the day, which you can only reach by boat, and lunch at the fab Juan y Andrea Restaurant, but this year we opted for something more accessible: that is before we found out it takes 2 hours to find a taxi to take us back from the beach into town.

Lunch at El Chiringuito (, right on the beach, is truly amazing: the Jamón Ibérico, flambéed mussels and the grilled squid is to die for; pair that with a ice cold glass of Sangria and you’re off to a good start!  All the gorgeous, tanned bodied Spaniards in their skimpy swimsuits and larger than life personalities give this joint my seal of approval!!


El Chiringuito Restaurant, Playa Las Salinas


After lunch it’s off to the beach for that golden Ibiza tan. Unfortunately, seeing how we are seated just 30 ft. away from the neighboring “Nudist” beach, what was supposed to be a relaxing time has now become an extremely distracting time! I’m all for self expression and natural living; but why…I ask? Why it is always the oldest, fattest, un-trimmed, dirty, most visually unattractive people that choose to bear it all at these nudist beaches???? I mean, there is not one, slightly pleasing human being ever to be found in these places; I guess I come form a generation with a clear, un-spoken rule: “If Mr. Gravity hasn’t been to kind…cover it up!!!!”.

By 7pm it was time to head back to the boat for our overnight journey to Valencia, land of Paella!



I wake up to the sound of sirens (no, not the ones living in the ocean…) and realized we have arrived in the bustling port of Valencia. Valencia is a beautiful city with lots to see, but if you have just a day like I have, than the choices are clear: the Cathedral with it’s famous treasure: the “alleged” Holy Grail, believed to be the cup from which Jesus drank from at the last supper; the Miguelete octagonal bell tower that we so idiotically decided to climb all the way to the top, gasping for air while risking our lives on the super narrow & crammed, marble stairway that leads to the roof top (seemed like 5000 steps), and the “Mercado Central”, the 1928 covered market is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe and is a good place to walk around and pick up some food while experiencing the local culture. The market is full of stands run by local vendors and the foods are usually produced nearby; finally…Paella!!!

Of course Valencia offers much more than that, but our half-day visit allowed for just these options!


Mercado Central


Paella Valenciana


Being the “Gourmand” that I am, I was not getting back on that boat without having my Paella; thankfully, when it comes to food, James is always on board and as exited as I am; the rest…who cares!

We ask the locals for the best Paella joint in town, and the same name comes up over and over (always ask the locals where to eat unless you already know; most guides will send you to all the tourist traps), La Marcelina. We had to wait till it opened at 2pm, that is when everything shuts down for lunch till 4pm (bless the Europeans who still value a 2 hour lunch and siesta much more than making more money by staying open those few extra hours). The place was extremely charming and so typical of Valencia; the paella however, did not impress me at all: good but not fantastic! My mom’s paella is still the best I have ever had; I think she learned how to make it in Menorca, the third of the 3 Baleare Islands in Spain, where we had a summerhouse for many years during my youth. Even so, I am glad I got to have my Paella, buy my Spanish hot Paprika at the market and work out my calves on the buggery octagonal tower we climbed just before lunch. After an afternoon walking around town in scorching 110-degree temperature, we finally make our way back to the vessel to start our voyage back to Barcelona for the last leg of this trip.



At last back to where we started from; just enough time to go for a bite at the fabulous market: Mercado de la Boqueria (they sure know how to display their stuff in this extraordinary market) and off to the airport to catch a plane back to Switzerland.


Mercado de la Boqueria


Mercado de la Boqueria



It’s time to go to Lugano, the Swiss jewel on a lake in the Italian part of Switzerland, where I was born and raised and where most of my family still lives. I will be working here for 10 days re-designing my brother’s restaurant, Etnic Café (, for it’s 15 year anniversary.

Once you land in Zurich, there are several choices of transportation to go from Zurich to Lugano: the super clean & efficient Swiss train is probably the best choice; however I decide to take the two and a half hour drive, in my friend Bertrand’s 1978 Mercedes Benz SL convertible…talk about “retro”!

Almost 40 years later this roadster is still an amazing ride (sounds just like me…), except the failing seat springs that barely lift you up enough to see out the window!

Driving through the most beautiful countryside on earth is an overwhelming experience; one beautiful lake, green hill after the other, bridges so tall that one wonders how they were built, the world famous Swiss cows with their glamorous bells around their neck, and, oh yes, the venerable and majestic Swiss Alps!

In the summer one might drive through one of the few mountain passes that zigzag to the top of the alps and back down on the other side: beyond amazing!!!

Been there, done that to many times; I choose the Gotthard tunnel, a 10.2 miles tunnel right through the Alps, that links the German part of Switzerland to the Italian. Once the longest tunnel in the world; today it also serves as a bunker for the entire Swiss population in case of nuclear holocaust…how about that for planning ahead?



I arrive in Lugano around 9pm, just in time to drop off my suitcases at my brother Jonathan’s home, kiss my 3 beautiful nephews, and off to the center “Piazza” where the “Lugano Jazz festival” is in full swing; one of several festivals in Ticino (the Italian part of Switzerland) during the summer, attracting a vast array of talents from Jazz to vocal to pop and rock. Just 30 minutes away in Locarno, Elton John and Lenny Kravitz were performing a week later. When I arrived at my friend’s Guido’s front row table, as one does; Macy Grey, who’s a friend and client of mine, was performing on stage dressed as a Christmas tree. By the time “Chic” (talk about memories) got on stage after midnight, and 10 “Aperol Spritz” later (see recepe below…), I was dancing on tables to the sound of: “Le Freak” and “Dance, Dance, Dance” (BTW, dancing on tables? Not considered appropriate behavior in Lugano…). Funny enough, when Chic came to the world for the first time, I was dancing to their tunes in Lugano, where I was living at the time, barely 10 years of age…talk about full circle!


Piazza Riforma


Macy Grey performing on stage


I spent the rest of this trip in Lugano working at my brother’s restaurant Etnic in the center of town, that I am redesigning for it’s 15 year anniversary. This project started several months ago and we are just finishing up all the final installations before the Grand Opening in a week’s time.

Getting work done in Lugano is quite a challenge: you see, everyone is rich, including the electrician, the wood worker, the painter, and the plumber…nothing wrong with that! However, trying to get them to actually commit to working on your project within a reasonable time and price is close to impossible! I’ve designed and constructed a dozen restaurant/bars in Los Angeles and never, I mean never, have I run into a situation when the construction workers got to pick when they would have time for you and your project, not to mention the price tag these jobs came in for. It takes great patience, cleaver manipulation and old friendship’s help to get my project finished by the deadline. One thing is sure about Swiss workmanship…it’s second to none…if you can get it!

One of my favorite things to do in Lugano, is dining at a “Grotto”. One of the best kept secrets of the Italian part of Switzerland, a Grotto is a summer, make shift restaurant, run from a small home, or farm house, that opens only during summer, in most cases, and serves up local delicacies such as freshly cut salami, luganiga, prosciutto, soft cheese from the Valle di Muggio, or hard cheese from the upper Ticinese Alps, along with rabbit and my favorite: brasato al Barolo with polenta nostrana (braised beef with Barolo wine and rustic polenta). These restaurants are mainly in the woods or local mountains, or on the lakeside only reachable by boat; and dining is mostly outside on long stone tables and stone benches under centuries-old linden trees. It was a family favorite each summer growing up in Lugano and it is a treat I wish for everyone to experience at least once in a lifetime!


Classic Grotto exterior


Classic Grotto outdoor seating


Classic Grotto interior


Grotto specialties: Carne Secca, Salame Nostrano, Lardo, Pancetta, Formaggini, etc…


This time around I went with my childhood friends: Fabrizio and Gigi, and his beautiful wife Barbara, to a grotto on the lake Lugano, just passed the Swiss border in Porlezza, Italy: Crotto del Lago. It has a beautiful open terrace right on the lake; usually we would get there on Gigi’s boat, but he was concerned with the weather forecast predicting some evening rain, so we go by car. Not too long after sitting at our table around 8PM, I began noticing the sky getting very dark, very quickly. Half way into reading the menu, all hell brakes loose and a storm, the likes of Armageddon, unleashes it’s fury onto the beautiful, flowered, white linen and fully booked terrace with rain the size of walnuts and hurricane winds. Quickly, the owner and his helpers rolled down the terrace awning to protect the diners, but the wind was so fierce that not only it blew the awning off it’s hedges but everything else, including, napkins, table cloths, chairs, bread sticks and hair pieces started flying across the terrace like projectiles. It was pandemonium!!!!

I love this sort of disaster scenarios so I am having the time of my life feasting on the spectacle of it all. I even fight with the owner to allow us to stay outside for dinner once the rain subsided a little; sadly we are forced inside with the rest of the soggy patrons. Dinner takes for ever to come, since they had to set up the entire indoor dining room; but it’s well worth it and absolutely delicious! Even though my new Tom Ford blazer gets soaked and shrinks 2 sizes; I have the best time…ever!!!

The day of the Anniversary Party finally arrives and it is a huge success; my older brother David, the sweetest of the three brothers, does an amazing job organizing the whole event, with incredible hors d’oeuvres from all around the world (most of which from my mom’s recipes) mixed in with great music and…ohh yes: a gorgeous new interior design!!! Believe me, Luganese people are not easily pleased, but this night they are having the time of their life!

The event brings out all sorts of old faces from my past, most of which I am so happy to see and re-connect with; though some are definitely best left in the past.

Earlier in the day I was doing my daily gym workout at the stunning Principe Leopoldo Hotel, (where the GM Reto, with whom I went to school with, so kindly let’s me use) when I suddenly slipped off the bench and fell on my right knee; nothing to it…got right up and continued my workout. Later in the evening, just before leaving to the opening party, I noticed bruising on my knee, but once again, I paid no attention! Well, not even 1 hour after arriving to the party my knee starts to hurt really bad; I just keep drinking more Aperol Sprits and pop aspirins like Tic Tac’s to numb the pain but finally, around 11pm, not only I can no longer walk, but the pain is so excruciating that I have no choice but to go to the emergency room! I lived in Switzerland 21 years and never ended up at  an emergency room!!!!

My poor brother Jonathan has to leave his own party to drive me to the hospital and literally carry me, in head to toe Givenchy, through the hospital’s parking lot and into the emergency room. Now, emergency rooms in Switzerland are like the lobby at the Four Season Hotel “sans” Jeff Letham’s floral arrangements, and they are never crowded: I guess people are healthy and carful in Switzerland, what can I say! Sure enough there are only 2 people in front of me, but, as my luck would have it, the guy in front of me is definately  a few fries short of a happy meal (must have been a foreigner…) and held up the line for what seemed hours. I don’t know if it was the anger or the Aperol Sprits or the intense boredom, but after 1 hour waiting for this fruitcake to stop talking to the receptionist, the pain is subsiding and before I know it I can walk again. I have to convince my reluctant brother that I am, in fact, feeling much better and finally make our way back home (reminder: go to doctor and check knee when back in LA).

The morning after, hung over and disheveled and still limping, I drive myself to Zurich airport and after a huge fight at the Swiss Airlines counter with an evil faux-blonde woman who is trying to make me pay $200 for a few pounds of excess baggage (that’s what happens when you fly private too often…you loose prospective: “What do you mean I have to pay for 100lb of excess luggage?”); Helas, I’m on a plane to Istanbul, Turkey, for the next leg of my trip and $200 poorer!




I’ve been going to Turkey every year for over 20 years; it is by far one of my favorite places in the world! I’ve been fighting un up hill battle for years convincing my western friends to discover this amazing country and all of it’s beauty, most of their reluctantcy was based on a old classic movie from the 70’: “Midnight Express”, where Turkey is portrayed as an unsafe, lawless, utterly scary place, where no Americans should go to, specially if you’re planning to smuggle drugs out of the country…doesn’t that apply to most countries?

Thankfully, the west has caught on, and for the last 10 years you can finally see plenty of westerners enjoying this magical country. That, of course, also comes with the arrival of all “American”: Hyatt’s, Holliday Inns, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and so forth.

My main reason for visiting Turkey is to spend time with one of my “families” I have around the world; a family with whom I have been very close for many years and that I lovingly call Mom and Daddy. This trip is no different; I’ll be spending a few days in the south of Turkey on daddy’s boat and then another few days in Istanbul, before flying back to Los Angeles. Now, traveling with my Turkish family gives Jet Setting a whole new meaning: I arrive in Istanbul International Airport where I am met by daddy’s “greater”, who looks like “Fester” from the Adam’s family. He assists all of his guests with going through the visa & immigration process, luggage and into the awaiting car.  Believe me, it’s a real treat considering the alternative is waiting in line for a visa for 2-3 hours in the sweltering heat!

A helicopter is waiting for me to fly me to the private airport where the family is awaiting on the jet for the short flight to the South of Turkey. Joining us on this weekend trip is the Puck family: The Über-Super-Duper Chef Wolfgang Puck, his stunning Ethiopian wife Gelila and their 2 “super models in the making” sons. The Pucks are very dear to me and have been part of my life for a long time; I consider them too, one of my few “families” I’ve adopted around the world, outside of my own.

The flight to Gocek is only about 1 hour and once there, a caravan of vans takes us to the port where our captains are awaiting for our arrival.


My luggage on it’s way to the Heli


Our ride


Never travel without your chef…



Göcek has long been a desirable destination for both Turkish and foreign yachtsmen, as well as a favorite stopover for jet-setters and celebrities alike. Named ‘Kalimche’ in ancient times, this small town is one of the Lycian settlements found between Caunos (Dalyan) and Telmessos (Fethiye). It is not just world-class yachting that makes Göcek a special place; it is the way the culture and natural surroundings blend in such a serene way. Strict development laws ensure that this very unique setting is protected; and since there is no oversupply of hotels, it is never crowded”. Needless to say, if you don’t have a boat…you are out of luck! There is very little activity in the main land, especially when compared to it’s neighbor to the South, Bodrum, a bustling beach resort, offering everything and anything to the non-yachter.

Once at the port, 2 dinghies are waiting to bring both families and little ‘old me, to their respective boat. The Pucks are staying on on a classic Turkish “Gulet”, that you can rent for a reasonable price (compared to a classic yacht), to sail the Turkish sea’s with a full staff, catering to all your needs (make sure you do your homework when picking a Gulet, for some of them are pretty ugly and un-kept and others are simply gorgeous).

I’m staying on daddy’s “Über Yacht”, an Italian made Benetti with the most wonderful staff in the Mediterranean. Service on a private yacht is indeed an experience of it’s own; it makes a 5 star hotel look like a youth hostel! The attention to details you get on these boats is truly amazing: from unpacking all your stuff, to laudering, to knowing your eating habits, likes & dislikes, having drinks available to you at all times before you even think of asking, day or night, to assisting you with all water activities or anything else you might need. A staff member seems to always be just around the corner, ready to help you with anything you might need. It is customary in the yacht “protocol” to tip the staff when you leave the boat: a simple envelope with some cash and a thank you note, left in your room to their attention will suffice (if you’re planning to leave $20…don’t bother…just run!).


Daddy’s boat


Lounging on the top deck overlooking Göcek


After sailing off to one of the many spectacular natural lagoons that Gocek is so famous for, the next three days are jammed packed with water activities for all the children and adults alike: Jet skiing, canoeing, water skiing, doughnut rides, banana rides…you name it! It is important that you remain active while yachting, for it is common to over eat on boats and unless you balance your food intake with lots of water activities, you’ll be wobbling off that boat looking like “Jabba the Hutt”.

One of the highlights of the weekend was going to the turtle sanctuary in Iztuzu Beach, where we watched and fed live shrimps to the endangered and protected Caretta turtles; I’ve never seen sea turtles and I felt like a kid again. They are truly spectacular creatures…I’m signing up with WWF!

Sadly, it’s time to leave this paradise and jet back to Istanbul.



As I mentioned earlier, Istanbul is one of my favorite cities in the world; I have so much to share about this citiy, but I will write a whole chapter on this city later on my Blog. This time around, it’s a short stay with much of my time spent in my 2 favorite places: The Grand Bazaar, and at my Turkish family’s gorgeous Yali, a term used for these very rare, old Ottoman homes on the Bosphorus dating back to the 18th century.


A stunning example of a Ottoman Yali on the Bosphorus


My “Room with a view” 


A big surprise this trip was dinner at a new Steak House: Nusr-Et. Turkey is not known for it’s beef and yet, this place has an amazing array of meats that are grilled and cut at your table. The owner personally served us all his specialties at the table and allowed Wolfgang to go in the kitchen and pick the cuts of meat that we would eat for dinner. Though this eatery will feed you until you are ready to kneel over, don’t leave without having the Baklava…it is life changing! The highlight of the evening in this rich-red meat-menu-ed restaurant, was discovering a defibrillator mounted “Ohh so casually” on the wall, just out-side the men’s room!!! Hey…don’t knock it; might seem a little uncouth, but in a 3rd world country, if I have a heart attack, I rather have a defibrillator handy in the men’s room than waiting for the ambulance to arrive!!!


Best Baklava in the world


Being stupid by the defibrillator…


Next day: Grand Bazaar…Woohoo! “The irrepressible hubbub of the Grand Bazaar is key to its appeal and much of that bustle is from its determined shopkeepers luring customers. Standing out front of each of the stores is at least one salesman—never women—whose job it is to get you inside to look at his wares and have a chance to perform. Haggling for a better price is an essential and expected part of the buying and selling that goes on in the Grand Bazaar. Nothing has price tags, after all, so everything is up for negotiation. Just remember that they have been doing this for thousand of years so don’t get to frustrated if you find out you paid more than your friend for the same item at a few shops down. But the experience itself is really fun and manic. First they need to get your attention above the constant din; they routinely try English first, followed by German. Persistent rather than pushy, it’s all remarkably good-natured, and often inventive. Mostly, it’s variations on the usual: “My friend, would you like to look at my shop?” or “it’s my turn to try to sell you something,” but every now and then there’s a more creative approach. In our wanderings we heard: “are you a tourist? or a terrorist?”, “the shortcut is through my shop,” “sir, you want to spend some money? Yes, make the lady happy,” and even a nonsensical “shish kebab” (it was a clothes store). And, of course, flattery is a staple. You can’t accuse them of not trying”.

I am looking for Turkish lanters for my brother’s Restaurant in Lugano, some Turkish cotton towels (the best in the world) and a few vintage “Suzani” for a friend. Suzani is a type of embroidered and decorative tribal textile made in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries, they usually have a cotton (sometimes silk) fabric base, which is embroidered in silk or cotton thread. Suzanis were traditionally made by Central Asian brides as part of their dowry, and were presented to the groom on the wedding day. I discovered Suzani’s over 20 years ago at the Grand Bazaar, and no one had ever seen anything like it anywhere else; today, you can find this unique design reproduced just about anywhere, including Pottery Barn…Sigh!


Antique Suzani at the Grand Bazaar


Turkish lanterns at the Grand Bazaar


Grand Bazaar


Great Turkish towel shop by the Old Bazaar


Through the years I have found so many amazing and unique items at the bazaar that I’ve brought back to the US and used in my home at the restaurants I designed. It is truly an indoor magical kingdom with thousands and thousands of shops; you have to have the time and the patience to sift through all the “crap”, readily available for tourists, to find the good stuff; and believe me…you will!

After just 3 days in Istanbul. It is time to fly back to LA and get back to what I do: selling houses!!! BTW, if you need a house in LA…call me!!!